Family Planning in Africa and Men’s Chauvinism

According to the new UN population report, the population of the world stands presently at 7.6 billion people. In the year 2050, it is expected that about 2.2 billion more people worldwide, will be added to this figure, making the world’s population close to 9.8 billion people in the next 32 years. Presently, Africa has a population of 1.2 billion. However, by 2050, this figure is believed to increase by almost 60%, adding more 1.3 billion people to the world’s population. That means from the available statistics, about around 1.3 billion people from the expected 2.2 billion new births worldwide, will come from Africa. With this alarming figure, it is clear that more children are born globally. Isn’t it time to think of a good solution to the population growth?

Clearly, it means that from all the available evidence, Africa will be facing huge challenges in the area of population. The question is how can the continent tackle the population problems in view of other menacing obstacles like food shortage, drought, water scarcity, sanitary, health care, education? These and other hurdles call for a quick and comprehensive family planning in Africa. Absolutely, there is no doubt that an urgent family planning is needed on the continent, in order to control the explosive population, which will come with dare economic, social, political mayhem; but the question is, how do you achieve the plan in a culture, where men’s chauvinism, which is often rooted in the tradition, is often put first and above the social and health dangers facing the continent?

From the sexist, watery ideological perception, the use of contraceptives and other family planning measures in Africa faces difficult problems. While some solely believe it is the responsibility of women – not men – to use contraceptives, other men refuse to use a condom, simply because they want to enjoy the maximum sexual pleasure. Whatever the case may be, women are not only treated as less worthy and second-class citizens, they are equally loaded with responsibility and exposed to cultural expectations and pressure. It does not help that many patriarchal ideologies strongly see women as potential mothers and sex object, as such, girls are encouraged, and in some cases, forced to go into – sometimes unwanted – marriage at an early age. The idea is to make sure the women produce as many kids as possible, irrespective of the danger such a demand has on the health of the girl. Sadly, in many third world countries, some people still believe that having many kids comes with economic security. The kids are expected to go to the farm and provide for the parents when they are old. However, little attention is paid to the health or mental state of the woman, who is forced to conceive or give birth to a multitude of children. Nor the means to raise up the children and provide them with quality education usually available. The result: a high mortality rate, more economic challenges and the health of the mother is put in a precarious predicament.  With this chauvinistic attitude of men, more often than not, in a relationship, it is the men that determine when to have sex with their female partners. It is irrelevant to these men, whether their partner is in the best mood or health. It is also less important to some men, whether the timing could lead to unwanted pregnancy. In some cases, even though it is clear that such an intercourse could result in pregnancy, the chauvinism of men often blocks their common sense and sensibilities. What matters at this point, is to respond to the sexual urge and the libido of the men at the expense of women’s psychological, medical and physical conditions. At the end of the day, one is often confronted with an unwanted child or an offspring one is incapable of taking care of mentally, financially, socially or otherwise.

What of the perception that using the condom and other contraceptives as a deviation from the “norm” or a product of the “Western conspiracy”? Even if that belief does not make sense, some government policies have encouraged women to have more children due to political reasons. From grabbing more parliamentary seats, receiving more government financial allocation due to high population density, to being able to secure more votes during an election, some governments have encouraged women to have more children because it is      “politically advantageous.”

Of course, it is not the worst thing to be populous as a country. It only makes sense if the country is prosperous as well. It is not enough to just have children or a population you cannot take good and quality care of. Instead of encouraging explosive population growth, African leaders should drastically curb the population growth of their various countries through comprehensive family planning. More than that, they must urgently educate their people – especially women – and provide them with much needed social services, including quality health care system. There is no better way to be prosperous than to take those adequate measures aimed at a better society.

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