September 20, 2012 |

Female condoms: always in fashion

Ten women pose in colorful dresses that incorporate condoms.To mark the first-ever Global Female Condom Day last week, we asked readers of our blog and our friends on Facebook and Twitter how to celebrate. In an idea suitable for the artist Christo, Claudine suggested lining the Lincoln Tunnel between New Jersey and Manhattan in latex. No celebration is complete without condom balloons, said Rica, while William asked (rather timidly, we thought, for a man whose Facebook photo shows him with a chubby-cheeked preschooler), “Try one out?”

“Too obvious?” he added.

We’d never say that, William, but here at PATH, members of our Woman’s Condom project and their co-hosts from Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, the National Organization for Women Seattle Chapter, and NARAL Pro-Choice Washington held a fashion show to bring attention to female condoms, celebrate how far they’ve come, and advocate for their availability right now.

Models stalked a catwalk in our Seattle headquarters wearing fashions either inspired by or made with female condoms. See our gallery below for some of their creations. And check Flickr for more photos of the fashion show and guests who spell out their support for female condoms.

Click on images to enlarge

Protection from infection, and more

The evening had a more serious purpose, of course. Female condoms are designed to offer dual protection from unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, and they give women greater control over negotiating safe sex. But while the first female condom was introduced two decades ago, awareness and availability remain low in many places.

“We have a technology available right now that gives women the power to save and enhance their own lives,” wrote Patricia Coffey, who leads PATH’s work in maternal, neonatal, and reproductive health technologies, in a post for the USAID Impact blog. “Will we let two more decades pass before making it fully available to them?”

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