CHIOMA I. OKAFOR

NIGERIA

'As  a young girl, I always dreamt to have a big family of 5 girls and a  boy. This is because I am the only girl in the midst of 4 boys. When I  felt lonely, I imagined an alternative reality where I had sisters.


Becoming  a mother at 22, I asked myself, "Chioma, do you still want to have 5  children?" I had to rethink my dream not because of my experiences of  motherhood, but because I became a conservation biologist and saw how  population affects the use of natural resources. The landmass of my  country never increases, but its population does.  I have seen conflict  between farmers and pastoralists because both groups seek for food for  their families. Yet we keep increasing in number.


In  my culture, the number of children you have determines the level of  respect given to you as a woman. But this is gradually changing. In the  former days, a woman can give birth to 11 children and more, until 6  children became the minimum. Now most couples are content with 3  children.


For  me, I no longer desire to have 5 children but to have 2. This is my  choice, not because I am coerced but because I believe I should be part  of the solution we face with this planet.'

CHIOMA I. OKAFOR