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CHIOMA IMMACULATE 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.'