• “I’m not the one who’s going to rearm France”

    Visual: Coco.

    Over the phone, the voice of Léa Marco, 29, sounds confident. “I don’t feel the need to have a child. I feel complete without becoming a mother. I want time for myself.” Almost one in ten French citizens, most of whom are in their twenties and thirties, share her opinion.

    “If we still lived in the world I grew up in, I might think about having a child without having to worry all the time about the planet’s future,” says Zelda Hogrel, a 27 year-old teacher, who loves children. “I work in summer camps with kids, but I don’t feel the need to have a child of my own.”

    Never since WWII have there been so few births in France. President Macron has called for “demographic rearmament”, making the low birth rate a national struggle. This patriarchal injunction to start a family has angered many women.

    “As a teacher, I already feel I’m doing my social duty. I’m not the one who’s going to ‘rearm’ France,” says Léa Marco. “We all know that having a child brings out the inequalities in a couple. Women have to think of everything, take care of their baby and their partner. Moreover, the pressure to be a ‘good parent’ is much stronger than a few decades ago: you have to invest yourself completely in your child.”

    Like her friend Zelda Hogrel, she believes there are ways of being part of a family other than having children in a heterosexual couple.

    “For the past four years, I’ve been taking a foster child on vacation, and I even considered adopting her when she had problems with her mother,” explains Hogrel. “Investing in the education of a child you love is also something that makes sense to us.”

    This article is part of the "The demographic battleground" edition
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