Obianuju Ekeocha and the ‘feminine genius’

Obianuju Ekeocha, a Nigerian-born biomedical scientist who speaks out for the life-affirming values of African women. Photo: Studio 24 Obianuju Ekeocha, a Nigerian-born biomedical scientist who speaks out for the life-affirming values of African women. Photo: Studio 24

"The hour is coming, in fact has come, when the vocation of woman is being achieved in its fullness, the hour in which woman acquires in the world an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved. That is why, at this moment when the human race is undergoing so deep a transformation, women impregnated with the spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid mankind in not falling.” – Pope St. Paul VI, Address to Women at the Close of Vatican II, December 8, 1965

Women are called to change the world and to stand up for human life. May is a wonderful month to reflect on the gift of women.

A woman is able to become a mother because she literally has “room for another” within her body. On a spiritual level, all women are called to the vocation of motherhood in the sense of nurturing humanity by making “room for another” in her heart.

This perspective is at the heart of the feminine genius, which Pope St. John Paul II wrote and spoke about. In his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), he urged:

In transforming culture so that it supports life, women occupy a place, in thought and action, which is unique and decisive. It depends on them to promote a “new feminism” which rejects the temptation of imitating models of “male domination,” in order to acknowledge and affirm the true genius of women in every aspect of the life of society, and overcome all discrimination, violence and exploitation. … I address to women this urgent appeal: “Reconcile people with life.”

An excellent example of a woman doing just that is Obianuju Ekeocha, a Nigerian-born biomedical scientist who speaks out for the life-affirming values of African women in a variety of international projects and venues. She is doing much to “aid mankind in not falling” prey to the anti-life agenda currently seeking to impose population control in Africa.

Ekeocha uses her voice as an African woman to speak out against Western donors and organizations who act on the misguided belief that they know what’s best for African women and families: more abortion and contraception, fewer children, less maternity — basically, fewer Africans. Ekeocha points out that this comes across as racist; in her 2018 book Target Africa: Ideological Neocolonialism in the Twenty-First Century, she also identifies this agenda as a form of ideological colonization. The West’s new cultural values from the sexual revolution of the 1960s are being coercively promoted in Africa, but they are not values cherished by Africa’s own cultures and traditions. They are also leaving African women with the harmful side effects of contraception and the sorrowful aftermath of abortion.

To increase awareness about this, Ekeocha founded Culture of Life Africa. She speaks with the media, presents at international forums and conferences, and advises African political leaders and bishops’ conferences. She recently produced a documentary, Strings Attached (available on, which tells the story of “a well-funded Western reproductive health organization that has devastated the lives of many African women and girls whose voices are too small to be heard … under the guise of ‘sexual and reproductive health and rights.’”

In 2012, Ekeocha wrote “An African Woman’s Open Letter to Melinda Gates” in response to the Gates Foundation’s pledge to raise $4.6 billion to fund contraception in developing countries. She protested that African women could use improved health care and education, but that they did not see having babies as the root of their problems. “We, as a society, love and welcome babies. … Our babies are always a firm symbol of hope, a promise of life, a reason to strive for the legacy of a bright future.”

May women like Obianuju Ekeocha continue to use their feminine genius to speak out to build a culture of life and build hope for the future of humanity.

Northwest Catholic - May 2019

Sarah Bartel

Sarah Bartel, a member of St. Andrew Parish in Sumner, holds a doctorate in moral theology and ethics from The Catholic University of America, where she specialized in marriage, family, sexual ethics and bioethics. Her website is