My interview for a Nigerian radio station about the hostility childfree women face in the country

By Nina Steele 

Childfree women in AfricaRoyal fm 95.1 is a regional radio station in Ilorin, western Nigeria. 100% Woman, the show for which I was interviewed, is a weekly show hosted and produced by Temitope Oluleye. The show is described as “where true and compelling stories of women are narrated and shared”. As the most populous country in Africa, Nigeria carries a lot of weight. And so, discussing an issue which is still deemed highly controversial on the continent, was an opportunity I could not pass up.

The population of Nigeria currently stands at around 186 million. That figure is expected to increase to 400 million by 2050 according to official estimates. The figures make for sobering reading, considering that over 60 percent of Nigerians live below the poverty line. Put simply, the majority of Nigerians already living, and who happen to be made up mostly of young people, have no realistic chances of ever getting out of poverty. That may explain why Nigerians make up the majority of migrants trying to enter Europe illegally from West Africa.

With all that in mind, you would expect Nigerians to welcome those among them who choose to be childfree. But of course, this being Africa, childfree women are still vilified because once again, a mixture of ignorance and tradition is clouding people’s judgment and masking reality. It of course makes no sense at all, and I made that clear during the interview. I made the point that, instead of being vilified, these women should be celebrated not only for the courage they are showing for going against their culture, but also for not adding more humans to an already overpopulated country.

Those who keep hiding behind tradition to urge everyone to procreate, should be reminded of the error of their view considering the daily struggles of the majority of Nigerians. My question to all these people is a simple one: where are the jobs for all those extra people when the ones already here can barely feed themselves? The problem is that these traditionalists never seem to understand that there is a correlation between population growth and job opportunities, particularly in Africa, where jobs and opportunities to succeed are scarce to begin with.

So, instead of encouraging Nigerians and Africans in general to have more children, people in Nigeria and the continent as a whole, should be encouraged to have fewer children. It goes without saying that stigmatising women who choose to be childfree has to stop.

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