Population: Why not educate men on family planning?

February 1, 2021 by Joshua
in Choosing/Decision-Making, Education, Nature

The more I learn about successful, non-coercive, voluntary family planning leading to more freedom, stability, and prosperity, the more I talk about it. Think the opposite of China’s One Child policy or whatever eugenics programs you’ve heard of. You don’t judge fire because it burned down a home.


Any time family planning comes up, someone parrots, “we must educate women and girls! It’s the most effective way!” As far as I know, men around the world receive more education than women, though I understand less in the US and Europe at most ages and in most fields. Do we teach men and boys family planning, though? I don’t know, but I have a feeling we teach men and boys vocational skills and probably broad subjects like language and math, but not much family planning.

Why do I guess we don’t? Mainly because of how people who talk about educating women and girls about family planning talk about why. I’ll quote the highly-regarded Project Drawdown’s page on Health and Education:

Educating Girls

Education lays a foundation for vibrant lives for girls and women, their families, and their communities. It also is one of the most powerful levers available for avoiding emissions by curbing population growth. Women with more years of education have fewer and healthier children, and actively manage their reproductive health.

Educated girls realize higher wages and greater upward mobility, contributing to economic growth. Their rates of maternal mortality drop, as do mortality rates of their babies. They are less likely to marry as children or against their will. They have lower incidence of HIV/AIDS and malaria. Their agricultural plots are more productive and their families better nourished.

Do we take for granted that men and boys just want more children and can’t be changed? Look at the statement, “They are less likely to marry as children or against their will.” Are men forcing them? If so, why are we not teaching men?


The sentiment echoes that men and male attitudes drive irresponsibly toward more children. Educate women and they’ll resist male urges. Implicitly they’re saying that educating men won’t change male urges. Do people think men are stupid? Incorrigible? Stubborn? It sounds like all of the above.

If men are promoting irresponsible parenthood on women and girls, educate the men too—on family planning. I don’t see men and boys as just wanting babies no matter what, unable to stop their animal urges to impregnate, and flighty enough to leave women with their mess.

Documented lack of teaching men and boys family planning

I searched on family planning educate men and the first article confirmed that not teaching men family planning is limiting results. A peer-reviewed article Engaging Men in Family Planning: Perspectives From Married Men in Lomé, Togo says in its abstract

Family planning programs have made vast progress in many regions of sub-Saharan Africa in the last decade, but francophone West Africa is still lagging behind. More emphasis on male engagement might result in better outcomes, especially in countries with strong patriarchal societies.

It links to another article Men’s unmet need for family planning: implications for African fertility transitions.

Another article (non-peer-reviewed) Should Men be Involved in Family Planning? starts

Should men be involved in family planning? Ask any man in Kenya that question and the person will look at you as though you are a strange being who just landed from the moon or another planet beyond earth.

Trying to involve men in family planning in Kenya to some extent is like trying to do what Moses of the Bible managed to do; getting water out of a rock. The subject is often left for women. There is a general notion that family planning is a woman’s affair and that men have no role whatsoever in the matter.

These articles suggest we should educate everyone on family planning—everywhere, by the way, not only the third world. One baby in America impacts the world I’ve heard 40 to 100 times more than a baby in most parts of Africa and Asia.

Am I missing something?

Maybe I’m missing something. I can see by the numbers and biology of sperm compared to eggs that if we educate nearly all men but miss one or two, in principle they can father dozens more kids than women.

Still, I don’t see that difference suggesting we should give up on men and boys. I’m open to missing something. I haven’t remotely suggested not educating women. Nothing I said remotely suggests increasing or promoting inequality. I agree men and boys not educated in family planning will more likely pursue fathering more children. I agree women and girls not educated on family planning will likely pursue mothering more children. I support therefore teaching everyone on family planning.

Why the missing call to teach men and boys on family planning?

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