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Population policies: official responses to Feminist critiques

Smyth, Ines (1994) Population policies: official responses to Feminist critiques. Discussion paper series (DP14). Centre for the Study of Global Governance, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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Feminists have criticized family planning (FP) programs as well as the reproductive technologies they promote. Liberal feminist critiques that focussed on the quality and range of services provided by FP programs have led to the creation of an inventory of basic elements necessary to improve programs. A more fundamental criticism addresses the fact that FP programs seek to reduce fertility rather than promote women's health and reproductive rights. Some national programs have been developed in response to international pressures and reflect international power imbalances. A mainstream feminist approach would view FP programs as a potentially important part of larger strategies to improve women's status. This thinking calls for a woman-centered approach to FP rather than one driven by demographic goals. More radical feminists reject all existing FP programs as manifestations of the capitalist patriarchy which oppresses women. These divisions in the feminist movement have the positive result of stimulating debate and discussion. While three rationales have been identified for FP programs in the South (to reduce population growth, to promote maternal-child health, and to advance human rights), the population control motive is deemed to be predominant. Thus, many FP programs employ coercive tactics and support broader socioeconomic programs for women only when these programs (such as increasing education) are thought to reduce fertility.

Item Type: Monograph (Discussion Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 1994 Ines Smyth
Divisions: LSE
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2009 16:21
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2023 22:41

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