Sir David Attenborough says contraceptive pill has changed society

Sir David Attenborough says the contraceptive pill has dramatically changed society and calls for more women to take on roles of power (to mirror what he sees in the wild)

  • Sir David, 92, said he wants to see more women take on roles of power
  • He explained that this is because it would mirror what he sees in the wild
  • The broadcaster narrates new BBC earth wildlife documentary Dynasties
  • Dynasties highlights the importance of females in the wild compared to males 

For decades, his gripping wildlife documentaries have taught us all about nature’s secrets.

But Sir David Attenborough believes there’s one lesson we still need to learn from the animal kingdom – giving more power to the female of the species.

The broadcaster and naturalist, 92, said he wants to see more women take on roles of power in society to mirror what he sees in the wild.

Power struggle: Sir David Attenborough believes there’s one lesson we still need to learn from the animal kingdom – giving more power to the female of the species

Sir David narrates new BBC wildlife documentary Dynasties – which highlights the fact that many females in the animal kingdom prove more useful than the males.


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The veteran host gave the example of female bull elephants who have ‘all the wisdom’, while the males run around ‘trumpeting and copulating’.

He said: ‘If you restrict it to mammals, then by and large it is true. Bull elephants, for example, don’t stick with the family. The females have all the wisdom.

Copy cats: The broadcaster and naturalist, 92, said he wants to see more women take on roles of power in society to mirror what he sees in the wild

‘They bring up all the kids, they deal with the problems of drought and so on. The males dash around, trumpeting and copulating whenever they get the chance.’

Speaking to Radio Times, he also credited the development of the contraceptive pill for giving women more options and ‘changing’ society.

Asked whether he was keen to see more women in positions of influence, Sir David said: ‘Yes, I guess so, but we do have a female prime minister, and you have some women in Fleet Street who are fairly powerful.

‘I think it depends on all kinds of things. One of the reasons society is changing so much is the development of the Pill.

‘The huge dominant fact among mammals is how you rear the young. Now we have ways of dealing with that – one of which is not to have children until quite late in life [or not at all].

Queen of the pack: Sir David narrates new BBC wildlife documentary Dynasties – which highlights the fact that many females in the animal kingdom prove more useful than the males

‘The responsibility of producing the next generation is now optional.’

The presenter’s new series follows five different groups of animals – lions, chimpanzees, hunting dogs, emperor penguins and tigers – as they navigate the world’s changing landscape.

‘I don’t think anyone has dared to do this before,’ he said.

‘When Mike [Gunton, executive producer] first told me, I thought he was barmy – to devote two years to filming one group within one species and say “we will show exactly what happens” is either very brave or very foolish, because supposing nothing happens? And in lots of instances in the natural world, nothing does happen.’

Dynasties starts on BBC1 on Sunday at 8.30pm. 

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