Last Sunday, September 9th, Tanzania’s President John Magufuli was speaking at a public rally in Meatu when he said: “I see no reason to control births in Tanzania”. He then continued to explain that because education is now free, women could “throw away their contraceptives”. This is very surprising since the country has such high levels of HIV and other STDs.
Magufuli, who started off his presidency strong and loved by the people has now received a lot of criticism for the authoritative way he has been leading the country and now, for his position in relation to birth control. People all over the world have been commenting on how his recent speech at the rally has been harmful to women’s rights to choose any method of contraception and to have adequate family-planning education.
“You have cattle. You are big farmers. You can feed your children. Why then resort to birth control?”
Also, Africa has alarming rates of a growing population. That is, in a world where the essential life resources (such as water) have been decreasing in both quality and quantity while the United Nations has predicted that the continent’s population will double to around 2.5 billion people by 2050. That basically means even fewer resources and scarcer opportunities for these unborn children. The President’s speech then becomes much more alarming because, with the encouragement to not have birth control methods, those numbers have a higher probability of multiplying, which will most definitely contribute to a future supply crisis.
The main issue though, is that by influencing people all over Tanzania to think this way about family planning, Magufuli might be just as well encouraging retrograde thoughts in a world that has evolved so much on the aspects of gender equality. By saying that “Those going for family planning are lazy” he influences people to believe that if they do not have children, they are worthless when really, in somewhere like Tanzania (that struggles with resources such as water) it is healthy to have a preoccupation with the life-quality you are going to be able to give to your children.
Something must be done in favor of a Tanzanian woman’s rights. These women need to be able to choose if they want to have children or not, and shouldn’t be judged for it. It is also greatly needed that a larger focus on natural resources is granted so people see it as a real problem when considering parenthood.
Maybe, it would be a better idea to, instead of “advertising” against birth control methods, to give free public information on Tanzania’s demographics and the importance of condoms (for instance) to preventing STDs. Or, before giving out that idea, the government should consider investing more in access to good water and health-related programs, so that these children have the chance of receiving proper care and life-quality.
Photo Credit: Google Earth satellite image.