Global Awareness of Barrenness

For Immediate Release
15 June 2017

Charlottetown, PEI MP, Sean Casey, Presents Ground-breaking Petition in the House of Commons re: Global Awareness of Barrenness


Elizabeth Powers, an Island author and a barren woman for over 20 years, is pleased to announce that her petition, sponsored by MP Sean Casey, was read in the House of Commons on June 13. As an emissary for the over 100 million barren women and men worldwide, Ms. Powers is requesting that the Federal Government leads an international movement of awareness about the profound impacts of barrenness, an important health and social issue that affects people in every part of the world.

“With our Federal Government’s proven commitment to inclusiveness, no other country in the world is better positioned to champion the advancement of the condition of barrenness by launching educative programs – ones that encourage people to speak openly about the challenges of human reproduction,” says Powers. “It’s time to break the silence that surrounds the truths about not being able to create life and has done so for centuries.”

Powers further asserts, “Barrenness is a powerful topic relevant to all of us in some form. Friends, family members, colleagues, and those in our communities struggle to deal with the reality that they will never naturally produce their much-wanted children, something counter-intuitive to their instincts to love and nurture them. We can do a lot better in treating barren women and men with the compassion, dignity, and respect they deserve.”

Several organizations support Powers’ mission to increase knowledge and understanding about what those that are barren experience:

      • The Honourable Paula Biggar, Prince Edward Island’s Minister Responsible for the Status of Women
      • PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women
      • Women’s Network PEI
      • Fertility Matters Canada

By putting an accessible face to the condition of barrenness, Ms. Powers trusts that those who are also barren will relate to her experiences and emotions and feel less isolated. For those who are able to conceive, she hopes to inspire them to reach out to barren women and men with kindness and sensitivity.

Ms. Powers has contacted Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott requesting a meeting to discuss how she can work in collaboration with the Ministry of Health to initiate an international awareness campaign.

Quick Facts

      • The World Health Organization predicts that infertility and sterility (i.e., barrenness) will be the third-most serious disease worldwide in the 21st century after cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
      • One in six couples in Canada is diagnosed with infertility – a major health issue.
        • o This medical condition affects approximately 16 per cent of Canadians, a number that has doubled since the 1980’s.
          o About 40 per cent of couples that are treated for infertility will be unsuccessful in their attempts to conceive and will need to make the transition into barrenness.
      • Globally, one in six couples experiences problems with conceiving and many will not do so.
      • Barrenness has numerous emotional and psychological consequences, particularly for women who often experience strong feelings of guilt, profound sadness, and decreased value as a woman and as a spouse or partner.
      • The appalling treatment from others in their communities heightens their anguish. Barren women in several countries continue to be written off as “useless”, viewed as “burdens” to their communities, referred to as being cursed by “evil spirits”, and dreadfully abused, psychologically and emotionally.
      • Ms. Powers’ vision is for barrenness to be recognized in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


    • For more information:
      Elizabeth Powers Office: (902) 892-7575
      E-mail address:

You are not alone.

For over 20 years, I’ve lived with the reality that my body is incapable of creating life. When initially telling others about my former husband’s and my inability to have children, I spoke about being ‘infertile’. Many assumed that with the advances being made with fertility treatments, I’d eventually become pregnant. Others remarked that it was “too scientific”, “far too impersonal”, and “unclear”. Only when I used ‘barren’ did they grasp the significance of our situation.

For those that may find ‘barren’ harsh, let me assure you that as an author now writing about the condition of barrenness, it gives me no pleasure to use the word.  I’ve chosen it neither for shock value nor to sensationalize a reality. Instead, I’ve claimed it for the sense of finality which it so clearly suggests.

Being unable to conceive or to successfully produce much-wanted babies is excruciating. Those affected must wrestle with a myriad of emotional and psychological impacts, including the societal stigma of being barren. And, since barrenness is thought to be a personal topic, women and men are left to cope with the enormity of their circumstances in silence, in isolation, and oftentimes, in shame.

During our six-year journey with infertility I felt a special affinity with those also struggling to conceive in similar ways that cancer patients and 9/11 survivors have with each other. Explanations aren’t necessary; there is simply a ‘knowing’.  While writing my book “Breaking the Silence of Being Barren”, it dawned on me that many millions of others are undoubtedly facing emotions like mine. The realization that grief, depleted confidence, reduced self-worth, and an insecure view of one’s womanliness and manliness keep women and men emotionally isolated prompted me to broaden the scope of my writing to reach out to them with the hope of establishing a connection.

I became equally passionate about creating a sense of community for those unable to have children, about supporting the healing of barren women and men with the deeply-felt respect and compassion they need and deserve, and about speaking out on their behalf with authenticity and candour.

I figured that if I were to share my challenges and feelings, they would see themselves. Towards this end, I hope that those reading this and future blogs will discover in me a ‘kindred spirit’ – quite simply, one who has experiences, doubts, and emotions comparable to theirs. I trust that all of us will feel heartened by the knowledge that we’re not alone.

Conversations are beginning.

For the past several years, I reflected on, wrestled with, and researched the subject of barrenness – the inability of one’s body to conceive a baby. I did this alone, silently.  When asked – as I was easily 100 times – what I, an aspiring author, was writing about, my standard response was: “My book is a work of non-fiction. It’s about a global social issue that requires attention and change.”  Full stop.  Not once did I reveal the topic.  Not once, did I say that I’m barren, too.

It’s been a couple of months since filming my first YouTube video in which I publicly announced my book’s subject matter by reading its Prologue. I share with you modestly that to do so required resolve and courage on my part. Yet, when it was posted and announced to the 300 people who’d expressed interest in my work, I was jubilant! I heaved a huge sigh of relief and waited expectantly for feedback.

Comments took on three forms: those applauding me for tackling such a personal, little understood subject, those offering general congratulations for having finally declared the topic, and those thanking me on behalf of their friends and family members who are also barren. All were genuinely encouraging.

Since then, ripples of change have started. I’ve received an e-mail asking advice on how to support colleagues and family members who are uneasy with speaking about their barrenness. Out of the blue, I’ve crossed paths with other barren women who upon hearing about my book, have spontaneously opened up to me, airing their stories in detail through tears. While walking the beaches here in PEI, I’ve had conversations with four separate women, all of who have close friends that are unable to become pregnant. And, after reading my website and speaking with me, an especially kind neighbour approached her friend who she knew had been barren for a long time. She asked her what it was like when she found out she was unable to have children. Their discussion was extraordinarily cathartic and comforting.

With greater simplicity, I now tell others about my work, my book, and my commitment to raise awareness about how barrenness impacts millions of women and men around the world. With a deepening conviction, I describe my vision for all of us to learn to treat them with the compassion they deserve. All the while, I take delight in knowing that hearts are opening about barrenness and that conversations are beginning!

To learn about my book, “Breaking the Silence of Being Barren”, visit my website:
To be kept appraised about future blogs, join my Facebook Page: It’s also a forum for me to convey details about my global vision of all of us speaking frankly about barrenness, a condition that presently impacts millions.