French President Emmanuel Macron has been under attack for identifying Africa’s development issue as a problem of overpopulation, ignoring the effects of France’s imperialism.
In response a question on Africa’s needs by a reporter at the G20 Summit July 7, Macron said, “it’s by a more rigorous governance, a fight against corruption, a fight for good governance, a successful demographic transition when countries today have seven or eight children per woman.”
The event took place in Hamburg July 7-8, and was the twelfth meeting of G20, the top government leaders with major influence in the world’s economy.
When a reporter with roots in Ivory Coast, once a French colony, inquired into a possible plan for Africa similar to the Marshall Plan to reconstruct post-World War II Europe, Macron said, “The challenge of Africa is totally different and a lot more profound, it’s civilizational today.”
He added that a similar investment of money would not be helpful in this case, but the problem is rather certain aspects of the civilization of Africa. The comment has led to charges the president blames Africa’s poverty on its women, while ignoring the effects of France’s colonization of much of the continent.
Macron aligns to the theory of overpopulation, according to the French newspaper Liberation, in light of a book published last March by the political scientist Francoise Verges.
The theory, she said, makes “Third World women…responsible for underdevelopment,” noting its ignorance towards the effects of France’s colonialism in Africa. Rather, she said that “most studies show today that it is underdevelopment that causes overpopulation.”
Verges also addressed the forced abortions and sterilization of black women which occurred in the 1970s on Reunion, an island and overseas department of France in the Indian Ocean located east of Madagascar.
She said that while abortion was still illegal in France at the time, newspapers and radio propaganda advocated for birth control and limits to larger families among African countries.
“For their part, the doctors of the clinic arrive on the island with the conviction that the women of ‘these countries’ should not make children,” she said.