Ideological Colonization and the War on African Women

When it comes to discussions about overpopulation, the focus tends to be on areas such as sub-Saharan Africa where birth rates are almost twice as high as the birth rates in Europe. This has led to targeted efforts to increase the use of contraception in sub-Saharan Africa – even going so far as to tie aid for basic human needs in these countries to the promotion of contraception.

But do those promoting these policies ask what African women most want? Or do they stop to think why they are targeting African families instead of looking at the levels of consumption in the West?

Pope Francis has spoken out many times against this type of “ideological colonization,” which imposes the secular ideologies of the West onto the very same countries that were physically and economically colonized by the West years ago. Though this type of eugenics happens in America as well, it is not as common to hear protests against these campaigns when they are targeted toward African women.

One African woman who is certainly making her voice heard is Obianuju Ekeocha, author of the book Target Africa: Ideological Neocolonialism in the Twenty-First Century and the writer/producer of the new documentary film Strings Attached. Ekeocha has spent years speaking out against private foundations, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as government bodies who seek to tie aid to African countries with the promotion of contraception.

Ekeocha recently joined Sheila Liaugminas on A Closer Look™ to discuss why these campaigns disregard the real needs of African women in favor of the ideologies of the West, and the harm it can do to the very women they are trying to help.

Speaking of the work that Melinda Gates has done – pledging to raise nearly $5 billion to increase access to contraception for women in 69 of the poorest countries, most of which are in sub-Saharan Africa – Ekeocha said, “To some people it might sound harmless, and she talks about social justice, but really in the hands of very difficult leaders in African countries, this can become the worst weapon against women. This is, in fact, how the real war on women happens. It’s happening now, it has been happening for many years.”

“They are trying to put IUDs into women’s bodies, they are trying to put implants and all these things that people don’t want and haven’t ask for,” she continued. “African women are asking for basic healthcare, basic human needs. Food, access to education for their children, access to training and employment, security. These are things that women want.”

Ekeocha also pointed out that one of the dangers of ideological colonization is that those who try to impose their ideologies don’t always take into consideration the context in which these practices would be adopted. This is particularly true when it comes to promoting contraception in many African countries where there are more pressing healthcare issues that are largely ignored.

“They are ignoring the experience of women in Africa who, for example, are suffering from diseases such as cancer,” said Ekeocha. “Cancer, in and of itself, is a death sentence. A death sentence to African women. I just saw that in America you have reached an all-time low of cancer. It’s fallen by 20-something percent. These are things that in the West, yes, a lot of attention is being paid to real health issues.”

Ekeocha points out that it is not just her anecdotal experience that led her to speak out against the promotion of contraception by people such as Melinda Gates. As an African woman, she wishes those in the West would look at the data to see what those who live in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa really need.

“When she comes into Africa she ignores the data. She doesn’t ask how many people here have cancer, how many people here have diabetes,” Ekeocha pointed out. “How many people have access, for example, to clean drinking water?”

“Those are things that Africans need. If you’re talking about data, that’s actually very indicting. She could look at the real data coming out of African and see where the money can be better used, and where they are really feeling the pinch. [African women] aren’t protesting for contraception, but rather they are protesting for basic needs.”

Listen to the full conversation with Obianuju Ekeocha below:

A Closer Look airs weekdays at 6:00 p.m. Eastern/3:00 p.m. Pacific on Relevant Radio® and the Relevant Radio App.

Stephanie Foley serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she studied journalism, and she has worked in Catholic radio for 12 years. Stephanie is a wife, a mother of three boys, and in her free time she enjoys reading, running, and really good coffee. You can find more of Stephanie’s writing at and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.