ECOWAS Wants To Give 120 Million Women And Girls Access To Contraceptives By 2020
By 2050, Africa will represent more than a quarter of the world’s population. Our population is projected to double from 1.26 billion people to 2.53 billion, putting pressure not just on Africa, but also on European countries.
Denmark’s minister for development cooperation, Ulla Tørnæs, recently committed $14 million to family planning in developing countries, to reduce migratory pressure on Europe.
African governments have largely been passive about this projected population boom, preferring instead, to encourage foreign-funded family planning programs.
But on July 22, West African politicians took a new and unusual step to tackle the population growth problem themselves. At a health and family planning meeting held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, ECOWAS parliamentarians committed to allocating 5% of national budgets to family planning programs. The aim being cutting birth rates in West Africa down from 5.6 children per woman to three children per woman by 2030.
While this seems like a laudable step forward, as usual, African women, who should be at the heart of such family planning discussions were not involved in this decision-making process, even though educating young girls and women (many are still being excluded from formal education) will play a more important role in population control than enforced rules and contraception.
Many of the foreign family planning programs in partnership with ECOWAS now have their main goal cut out for them. They want to enable 120 million more women and girls to use contraceptives by 2020. It is unclear whether ECOWAS will be able to reach their target because while it is noble to want to control birth rates, it’s not a very easy feat to achieve in a predominantly uneducated, poor, religious, patriarchal place like Africa.