Feminism and family planning
One would imagine that feminists would be in favour of family planning. In the west, family planning was fundamental in giving women control over their own fertility. With family planning, women can approach careers and relationships with confidence, knowing that they can decide whether and when to have children, and that they are not vulnerable to an unplanned pregnancy which will derail all their plans.
And yet, they object. When presented with a major family planning initiative, such as the UK government/ Gates summit, with the potential to offer a step change to provision of family planning services to they world’s poorest women, a host of “concerns” emerge.
It must be led by women. It must focus on women’s needs and not concern itself with men. It must include women’s education and empowerment as objectives (never employment, which is more to the point). It must only talk about enabling choice and not mention all the benefits to society of lowering birth rates which are clearly unsustainable. It must address child marriage. It must not have definite goals. It must include maternal health, sexual rights and various other factors. It must include consideration of inequality and marginalized social segments.
In theory, this is good stuff and things we should all support. In practice, asking family planning programmes to take on the burden of the entire feminist world view and programme simply disrupts and ultimately destroys hopes of progress for an initiative which directly and practically benefits millions of women and, by its nature, is a most significant contributor to the goal of gender equality which feminists seek.
It would be better for women if feminists simply supported family planning wholeheartedly, and sought other channels for promoting women’s rights.
No related posts.