Our history and background
RFSU stands for condoms and other products, sexual information, advocacy, sexual policies, clinics, information provision in schools and much more. We are a non-profit organisation independent of party politics, the unions and religion that works for an open, positive view of sex and relationship issues. We believe that everyone is entitled to be what they want to be, to choose to live as they want and enjoy what they want. We are convinced that sex and relationships are important, both for the individual and society. We work locally (e.g. with information provision in schools), nationally (e.g. by influencing policies) and internationally (e.g. in the form of development projects in Africa).
The words are those of Elise Ottesen–Jensen, who started Riksförbundet för Sexuell Upplysning (the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education) – RFSU in 1933. The right to an abortion and contraception, sex education in schools and the decriminalisation of homosexuality were some of the issues that “Ottar” and her colleagues campaigned for. In order to get the money for these controversial activities, they started selling condoms – and that’s still the case today, after more than 75 years. Initially, RFSU ran its campaign for education, justice and change in the face of strong opposition, but gradually the work led to major changes, and even legislative changes.
Today there are many companies that want to take social responsibility, for example by making their activities more environmentally-friendly or supporting deserving projects. In the case of RFSU, it is social responsibility that came first, followed by business activities to finance non-profit work. RFSU AB – owned by the RFSU association – sells condoms, lubricants, home pregnancy tests, tampons, intimate products and sex toys and has its own factory in Hälsingland, where the condoms are tested and packed. The profit from sales of products enables our work to improve people’s lives.
RFSU for women
Every minute one woman in the world dies as a result of pregnancy. Many die from infections following illegal abortions or complications from pregnancy that could have been avoided with ordinary maternity and delivery health care. In 2000, UN member countries agreed eight millennium goals to halve poverty by 2015. Goal no. 5, which deals with reducing death in childbirth, has gone the worst. Few organisations focus on contraception and safe abortions as a way of reducing mortality among women. In our international work, we focus in particular on fighting for access to safe abortions in the world.
We think it is self-evident that contraception should be available to all. We think that women in other countries should be able to get an abortion in Sweden if it is illegal in their own country. We think that everyone in the world should have the right to decide over their own body and with whom, how and when they have sex. RFSU works with both development projects around the world and on sexual information in Sweden. We talk to both the UN and high school teachers. If you think like we do, join us and help. Through RFSU, you can have an impact.
In many places in the world, access to both contraception and knowledge of sexuality is poor. In particular, poor people, women, young people and homosexuals lack power and are discriminated against. Illegal abortions are commonplace, and sexual advice and modern maternity care is virtually non-existent. Since 2008, RFSU has been a framework organisation for Sida, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, which involves a more long-term partnership to change the situation in the poor countries of the world. Currently, we reach 4 of 7 continents and run cooperation projects in Africa, Asia and South America. We also work to influence decision-makers, from local politicians to UN level.
For future generations
RFSU will contribute to sustainable development for the current and future generations, both from a local and global perspective. All employees try to take environmental aspects into consideration for every decision, large or small. We continuously follow up and assess our environmental policy so that we are always improving our environmental work. We always follow the relevant environmental legislation.
We impose requirements
Our code of conduct is part of our purchase terms that all our main suppliers must sign up to. The working rights legislation in our production companies is strong, which is why our code of conduct also states that national laws must be followed.
You can't get any safer
When you see RFSU on a product – whether it is a condom, a sex toy or a home pregnancy test – you can be assured of the quality. Our standard for condoms forms the basis of the international standard for all condoms in the world, and stringent requirements apply to all RFUS products. The quality of our other activities is just as important. If you visit our clinic or are in contact with us in any other way, you can be assured you will get the right information, treatment or advice.