In Zimbabwe, a trip to a beauty parlor can save a woman’s life.
Women in Zimbabwe – a country hit hard by the HIV crisis – are more likely to contract HIV than men and they are infected earlier in life as well.
There, cultural and gender dynamics often prevent women from purchasing and initiating condom use. That’s why PSI is investing in local heroines who can reach out to women with lifesaving resources.
Through our work, we’ve found that hairdressers can help.
In a bustling hair salon in Chitungwiza, Tears Wenzira, a radiant 28-year old hairdresser, is styling hair and saving lives.
One of more than 1,900 hairdressers and barbers who work with PSI, Tears helps prevent HIV transmission by talking to her clients about using the female condom. After she develops a relationship with her clients, Tears explains how HIV is transmitted, how the female condom can be used and how it can help prevent the spread of HIV. She also refers clients to clinics for HIV testing and treatment, as well as sexual reproductive health services like cervical cancer screening and to learn about longer-term methods of family planning.
Tears had once dreamed of becoming a nurse like her mother. But when her parents passed away when she was 15, she had to drop out of secondary school to care for her grandmother.
Her work with PSI has brought her back to the health care profession, while enabling her to build a solid financial future for her family. Each month she sells 100 female condoms to her clients and makes a profit of $9 – enough to buy basic groceries like bread and milk.
Further Tears is getting results. Last year, more than 1,786,460 female condoms were distributed through this network of hair salons across the country.