Stella’s Story: It pays to be tough when you are a childfree woman in Nigeria

Childfree Nigerian womanI am a childfree woman from Nigeria, and I can confirm that I am far from being an exception. One of the main reasons why other women like me choose to stay quiet is because of the risk factor. It is one thing being childfree in the West and a completely different story in Africa. The ignorance here is such that your life can be made hell. Thanks to the anonymity of social media and the Internet in general, some of us have decided that speaking out is the only way to make this issue less of a taboo on the continent.

What I have found from chatting to other African women online is that, the level of hostility varies depending on your country. Nigeria is definitely one of the worst countries in Africa for a woman if you have no children. Funny how children are often abandoned for being witches, yet women like me are vilified for daring to go against what is considered the norm. The sad truth is that for many people, having children is just a ticking box exercise. They can boast to their families and friends about their status as parents. A child is seen as nothing more than a tool to be used for the parent’s own social standing.

What all these traditionalists seem to forget is that times have changed. As more and more women become educated, they either have fewer children or don’t have any at all. I don’t have the exact figures but I think you can have a good idea of what’s happening in a society by chatting to people on social media. Women are getting fed up with being seen purely as mothers and wives. They want more from life, especially the ability to shape their own destinies. Many of the women I talk to don’t want their lives ruled by a man.

I am not saying no to romance. Far from it. If I find a man open minded enough to let me be what I want to be, then I may consider marriage at some stage. For now, I am just getting on with my life and focusing all my energy on my career. Not having to depend on anyone to live is very empowering. My education is one of the things I am grateful to my parents for. Had I not been educated, I would most certainly be at a man’s beck and call. That I can choose my own path gives me the kind of power that many women across the continent can still only dream about.

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Childfree Nigerian woman


  1. Hi Stella, thanks for sharing your story. I hope more childfree African women will come forward to lift the lid on what it’s like to go against the grain in an environment so steeped in tradition. Whether people like it or not, a lot of the beliefs that are still prevalent in Africa have no place in the modern world. This obsession with children, when so many of those who are already here are neglected or rejected, makes no sense at all. It is time that men on the continent gave women, who after all are the pillars of their communities, the respect they deserve.

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