Lunch Briefing

Tuesday 06 March 2018, 12:30 - 13:30

Women’s Rights and Reproductive Rights: A Complicated History

Nicole Bourbonnais, Assistant Professor of International History

Lunch Briefing

Auditorium A1B
Maison de la paix, Geneva

Almost all international organisations working in the field of population and reproduction today stress the fundamental importance of empowering women, working for gender equality, and adopting a human rights-based approach.  But this was not always the case: in fact, this woman/rights-centred paradigm is a relatively novel phenomenon when placed in the longer history of population activism.  This public briefing will explore the complex mix of feminist, eugenic, neo-Malthusian, environmentalist, and public health ideologies that shaped early- to mid-20th century “population control” and “family planning” activism, before tracing the forces from within and outside the population movement that fuelled the shift to a “reproductive rights” paradigm in the early 1990s.  Finally, it will consider how the historical legacy of population control continues to shape international politics and activism today.   

Nicole Bourbonnais, Assistant Professor of International History
A Canadian citizen, Nicole Bourbonnais is Assistant Professor of International History with a focus on gender, global population politics, reproductive rights, and transnational activism in the twentieth century. Her first book, Birth Control in the Decolonizing Caribbean: Reproductive Politics and Practice on Four Islands, 1930-1970 (Cambridge University Press, 2016) explores how family planning campaigns in Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, and Bermuda intersected with the politics of nationalism and working class women’s efforts to control their reproductive lives in the early to mid twentieth century.  
 

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