Before I read More: Population, Nature, and What Women Want, I had to admit I was somewhat skeptical. Let’s face it: any man that says “What Women Want” in the title of his book opens himself up to all sorts of cynicism. But I was pleasantly surprised; author Robert Engelman does a fantastic job of seeing population control from a woman’s point of view.
More takes on population issues, and proposes changing the world in terms of environment, health, and economics if we begin with and listen to women. Engelman contends that to manage the world’s population, women everywhere should have the choice of when to start a family and how large that family should be. While this is not a new contention, here it is refreshing coming from a man.
More gives a beguiling perspective on historical, scientific, sociological, and cultural data that illustrate how population and attitudes have evolved. After over 20 years of research and interviews, Engelman writes what women around the world think. For starters, despite what their religion or male dominated culture might dictate, women want more control over their bodies and the number of children they have. In a nutshell, he examines how “Mothers aren’t seeking more children, but more for their children.”
In More we learn about how cities and towns in developing countries, such as the capital of Ghana, Accra, are listening to women, and offering them reproductive health care. Clinics are being made available to women and men alike. The clinics are urging women to take charge of their lives and future.
There are many amazing stories of women doing just that for themselves and others. Take the story of Henrietta. Here is a 17 year old girl who during the day plays with her friends, and learns all she can about AIDS prevention, while at night she takes to the streets. She walks the streets of Accra at night to talk with kids about AIDS and hand out condoms. She does it so often she is called “The Condom Sister” by the kids. She isn’t afraid of being raped or assaulted; she is simply trying to help her people. You don’t find that sort devotion often.
Engelman also discusses the various religious doctrines on birth control methods. While he explains the doctrines, he doesn’t condemn or approve. Instead, he provides the facts and leaves it to the reader to decide one way or another.
He does make his case, however, for how reproductive health care for everyone (and the population issues it will address as a result) will only become a reality when the public and those in political offices make it a priority. As far as books on social issues and even living green books go, readers particularly interested in global issues, women, and overpopulation will find More an informative and enlightening read.
Review by Rita Hernandez, of Rita Reviews