Christine’s Story: Choosing the childfree life as an African woman

Childfree African womenAs a young woman growing up, I had a strong sense of who I was and what I wanted in life. And one of the things I wanted more than anything else, was to be successful. There was no doubt in my mind as to which factor I owed my determination. My upbringing was ultimately what shaped my outlook on life. Indeed, growing up in an environment where money was always tight wasn’t much fun, and our situation was made worse by the fact that all 6 of us were raised by a single mother. Although our situation was far from unique, I came to dislike it a lot. Having witnessed first-hand what it feels like to raise children on a tight budget, the last thing I wanted for myself was for history to repeat itself. I was determined that my life would be different and because I came to equate having children with struggling financially, I was not going to have any.

Now in my 40s and a successful business woman, I don’t regret my choice. If anything, my view on this issue has hardened as the years have gone by. I cannot understand the African culture and its obsession with children, particularly as so many of the children are raised in poor households with many having to fend for themselves.

Choosing not to have children inevitably opens one up to accusations of not liking children. And even though that may be true for some, it certainly isn’t for me. All my siblings have children of their own, and those children are welcome in my home, although not on a permanent basis.

Being childfree in the Ivory Coast is still heavily frowned upon. I am one of the lucky ones, as my success shields me from the kind of vilification that poor women often face in rural areas for not having children. I cannot imagine a poor woman deliberately choosing not to have children, since for many of these women, children are seen as future sources of income.

As a childfree woman, planning for the future is paramount. The good news is that in Africa, there would always be family members willing to move in with you and act as helpers if you ever needed that kind of help. Money is what ultimately determines how one’s life turns out and having money means that I will always have the help I need to live a peaceful life, particularly in old age when such help would be most needed.

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  1. Hi Christine, what an inspiring story! Thanks for sharing it. Time and time again, I keep hearing African women say that you can never be childless and happy in Africa, and that the culture simply won’t allow it. Well, as your experience shows, it is perfectly possible. It just requires a great deal of determination and courage.

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