Today, October 15th, is the International Day of Rural Women, which has been marked by the United Nations since 2008. The stated goal of the day is to recognize “the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.”
As the international community rightly observes, rural women play a vital and leading role in development and are in need of greater structural and institutional support to help overcome the poverty they face in many regions throughout the world. They need real opportunities for development, greater employment opportunities, and better health services to help achieve this.
One solution that some developing countries have taken is to allow its women to serve as surrogate mothers for wealthy couples from the developed world. This is a wrongheaded notion of development and places their health and wellbeing at risk—all under the banner of “development” and “opportunity.”
Take for example the situation in Nepal earlier this year where a deadly earthquake killed over 4,000 people. Commercial surrogacy was a thriving enterprise in the developing country, but when disaster struck it wasn’t the surrogate mothers who the outside world was concerned about saving. They were only interested in rescuing the children who were under contract from outside parents. There was no concern or interest in the needs of the women carrying them.
Surrogacy places women, particularly rural women, at heightened risk—physically, psychologically, and legally. It exposes these women to unnecessary vulnerabilities, all for someone else’s gain. In short, it’s exploitative and buttresses a system of inequality, rather than eliminates it.
On this International Day of Rural Women, the CBC applauds the aim to promote greater development and real economic opportunities for women throughout the world. Surrogacy, we implore you, is not one of the solutions and only contributes to the problems that are desperately in need of alleviation.