The simplest way to prevent STDs and unwanted pregnancy is a condom. That responsibility–procuring and putting on condoms–often falls to men. It doesn’t have to. While there is only one female condom approved for use in the U.S, there a slew of others that are either approved in other countries or on their way to approval. And yet, there’s still a lack of awareness about what female condoms–even though they have been around for 20 years.
Global health organization PATH‘s female condom project has been working hard to raise awareness. Last year, the organization put together a female condom fashion show, inspired by a similar event at the International AIDS Conference. “Global Female Condom Day was in September, so last year we decided to riff on this fashion idea and to encourage people in the Seattle area to design female condom outfits and enter and model in a fashion show,” says Kimberley Whipkey, head of advocacy and communications for the female condom project.
The event attracted all sorts of dress-makers–there were designers from the New York Fashion Academy, supporters from Planned Parenthood, and member of PATH’s staff. In total, they showed 11 dresses.
“We were blown away by people’s interpretations. Some people were coming down on the disease angle, others were like, ‘I’m totally going to glam this up.’ There was one baby blue chiffon dress that looked like it was ready to go to a ball,” says Whipkey.
The fashion show was just one piece of what PATH does to promote female condom awareness. The organization also recently put on a female condom film competition, where 30 short films from 12 countries were submitted. You can check out the winning films here.