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Parenting Models Matter: Uncrowded, Human Rights and Explosive Population Growth in Africa

As a Newsweek article entitled “How to Diffuse the Population Bomb” recently detailed, Africa is an extreme example of how large families can cause immense suffering that locks people into poverty and also destroys the environment. And as Uncrowded’s recent series has shown, many parts of Africa will continue to experience the explosive population growth that, despite the many efforts described in the Newsweek article, shows little signs of slowing down.

The Newsweek article surveys the current key efforts of governmental and non-governmental organizations to slow population growth in Africa by increasing access to family planning services. These are the same efforts that have been underway for decades, and obviously failed to prevent the current situation. What’s missing? What are we doing wrong?

Though the article omits it, the fact is that all of efforts described are based on an antiquated human and reproductive rights model that isolates families, equates having children with not having children, and completely ignores the rights of children and our human right to a natural environment. Read the Newsweek article closely: the massive and failing efforts to diffuse the population bomb in Africa promote parents choosing family size, not parents choosing smaller families. This model does nothing to promote smaller families and reduce population growth, but instead pushes parents to choose whatever sized families they wish. This choice can include massive families, the same ones that are causing the population explosion and immense suffering those adhering to the outdated parenting model are actually trying to solve.

What does Uncrowded have to do with the African population explosion? The African population explosion is a perfect example of why parenting models matter, and why new models like Responsible Parenting are needed so badly. The best human and reproductive rights model for parenting will actively and loudly promote smaller families that invest more in each child. If we instead commit to a human and reproductive rights model that is ambivalent about family size and ignores the rights of children and the human right to a natural environment, we are not diffusing the population bomb – we are making things worse.

Let’s all actively promote a non-coercive international human and reproductive rights model that demands we all have fewer children and invest more in each child. Providing contraception and other reproductive health services makes no sense if people don’t have deep and compelling reasons to use them. True human rights, including the rights of children and our right to a natural environment, are the reasons we need.


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