Countries with lower reproduction rates, like Canada, are not our eco-heroes, because they continue to consume at vastly unsustainable rates. Lower population size alone will not guarantee a sustainable future. On the other hand, discussing population can lead to critical conversations about the services that are essential for women’s bodily autonomy, such as access to safe and legal abortion.
All countries are in different demographic, economic, and social situations, so equitable collaboration on this issue means different targets for everyone. We are right to feel edgy about this subject. Authoritarianism is rising around the world and many systems of oppression have operated by limiting women’s choices and reproductive rights.
Here in North America, the monogamous family unit was imposed by settlers and it plays a role in perpetuating the colonial economy. This family structure is a big part of how people in Canada form their identities. People have kids to meet all kinds of needs and kids are wonderful! But we make them very hard to share. As it stands, there are difficulties associated with co-investing in property, co-parenting and adoption etc. that present real barriers to alternate ways of raising children in the ‘village’ and sharing in both the joys and burdens.
I want to see more alternative family models celebrated and I want to see them socially and economically rewarded the way we reward heteronormative nuclear families. I want to hear parents’ perspectives in this discussion and to point out that this is a patriarchy issue, not a women’s and girls’ issue and that the burden of enforcing environmental responsibility already falls disproportionately on women. So, while we’re at it, can we please close the male birth control gap?
– Elizabeth Holloway