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HAT Forum - "BirthStrikers: A Rational Response to the Threats Posed by Climate Change?"

  • The 519, Room 304 (check lobby screen to be sure) 519 Church Street Toronto, ON, M4Y 2C9 Canada (map)

The founder of a group of "birth strikers" says choosing not to have children makes sense when faced with the damage that climate change may inflict on future generations.

"We're looking at famine and we're looking at mass displacement. We're looking at severe weather systems, we're looking at general drought and sea-level rise," said Blythe Pepino, who launched the BirthStrike movement. Pepino is based in Britain and got the idea for BirthStrike last year, as a global organization for people deciding not to have children in response to the climate crisis, which will cause children born now to face an unstable future.

In 411 B.C.E., Aristophanes, the Greek playwright, wrote Lysistrata in which the women, fed up with the Peloponnesian War, called a sex strike until peace was declared. Since then, women around the world have occasionally withheld sex or childbirth for the purpose of making an impact on society.

Here’s just a few Lysistrata experiments. To see more, go to

●  1979, West Germany — On Mother’s Day in Lower Saxony, over 1,000 women joined in a nationwide antinuclear campaign, pledging not to bear any more children until the ruling powers give up nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants.

●  1986, Finland — Women collected 4,000 signatures on a petition announcing “No Natal for No Nukes” promising to withhold sex until the government of Finland changed its pro-nuclear policies.

●  2006, Colombia — Proclaiming a “strike of crossed legs,” women in Pereira withheld sex to stop gang wars and drive home the point that violence is not sexy. The ten-day strike may have worked. By 2010, Pereira’s murder rate declined by 26.5 percent.

●  2011, Philippines —  Women in a sewing cooperative on rural Mindanao Island were unable to sell their wares because violence between men in rival villages had closed the main road. They called for a sex strike. Within a few weeks, the road was opened and deemed safe for travel.

●  2014, Ukraine — After Russia annexed Crimea, Ukrainian women went online to launch the “Don’t Give It to a Russian” campaign, encouraging their sisters to say “Nyet!” to having sex with Russian men.

Is deciding not to have children a rational response to climate change?

Are there other actions that could be more effective?

What are the arguments against the birthstrikers’ decision?