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Family Planning Policy and Development Discourse in Trinidad & Tobago: A Case Study in Nationalism and Women’s Equality (WP-04-06)

Dorothy E. Roberts

This working paper examines the influence of development discourse on family planning policy in Trinidad and Tobago in the first decade of the nation’s independence and investigates questions concerning nationalism and women’s equality. The government’s adoption of family planning as an official program was based on the asserted need to control population growth for the sake of the nationalist development project. The state’s family planning program enlisted women as the principal agents of the nationalist project by encouraging them to reduce their fertility for the sake of economic progress. But while women were included as active participants, their interest in political and social equality was neglected in the program’s philosophy and aims. After examining the negative consequences of this development strategy, Roberts concludes that the national program seriously constrained—but did not preclude—the creation of a new nationalist discourse grounded in women’s equality and social justice.

Dorothy E. Roberts, Law and Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University

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