In the West, we hear about the problems of Africa, its rapidly-growing population and its poverty, particularly during disasters and aid appeals, but rarely do we hear from Africans on these topics. This book was written by a Nigerian pro-life activist, now living and working in the UK as a biomedical researcher and pathologist.
Ekeocha's research skills are evident in the way this book is clearly argued from premise to conclusion, with copious references for further reading, but this is not a research paper. Like other books written by activists, the goal of this book is not to review the evidence objectively, but to present an alternative narrative, in this case of family life in Africa and Western attitudes to its population.
The key argument in Ekeocha's book is that a small number of extremely wealthy Western donors, mostly white American men, are using aid programmes as a lever to impose their own beliefs about reproduction and sexuality on African states. According to Ekeocha, African elites are benefiting personally from this largesse, but the effect of targeted aid on the behaviour of ordinary Africans is harder to quantify.
Published by: PM Press $19.95 USD paperback / $8.95 USD e-book
Politicians and pundits of all kinds are in agreement that the current birth rate in most industrialised countries is below replacement level, the number required to maintain the population. Accounting for mishaps and variations such as child mortality, this level is generally considered in Western societies to be only slightly higher than the number of males plus the number of females, or about 2.1 children per woman.
What is far from agreed is whether Western population decline is good or bad, in a global context of continuing population growth; and if this decline is considered problematic, what the causes and remedies might be. Jenny Brown tackles the question from the point of view of a feminist labour organiser working in the United States of America, in the particular context of a free market economy with minimal state support for new parents and an influential anti-abortion lobby.
Brown's key point is that the debate over women's reproductive rights is fundamentally economic, rather than religious or ethical. Birth rates must be sustained to provide workers and soldiers, in order to maintain economic power, while ensuring that wages are kept down. This point might explain why a president who apparently becomes emotional when talking about innocent babies is more than willing to launch a missile strike against a civilian area in some other country.
Jenny: I've been a feminist and labour activist most of my life, and I worked from 2003 to 2013 trying to get the morning-after pill available over the counter in the United States. When we started, dozens of countries already had this including the UK, and so we campaigned; we had a lawsuit, we sat in at the FDA, and we finally got the FDA to recommend putting the pill over-the-counter for all ages.
The newly-elected administration of Barack Obama overruled the FDA, saying he did not want his children, his young daughters, to be able to access the morning-after pill which is as everybody knows after-sex contraception that prevents pregnancy, and so we were a little surprised that the Obama administration had taken this position, and as we started to think about why is it that opposition to birth control had become mainstream, I mean, we had grumbled about the Democratic Party, but it still largely seemed to support reproductive rights, and this sort of showed that we were really going backwards.