Birth spacing can boost growth

KABEER YOUSUF  –
MUSCAT, Nov 26  –
Birth spacing can help bolster economic/ social development and enable nations to achieve their goals in time, according to a new UNFPA report.
According to the report titled ‘The Power of Choice: Reproductive Rights and the Demographic Transition’ in the State of World Population 2018, published by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the family size is closely linked to reproductive rights, which, in turn, are tied to many other rights, including the right to adequate health, education and jobs. It further said where people can exercise their rights, they tend to thrive. Where these rights are stifled, people often fail to achieve their full potential, impeding economic and social progress.
“The global trend towards birth spacing is a reflection of people making reproductive choices to have as few or as many children as they want, when they want. When people lack choice, it can have a long-term impact on fertility rates, often making them higher or lower than what most people desire,” Asr Ahmed Toson, UNFPA representative of Sub-Regional Office for GCC states in Oman, said.
“In Oman, there has been a paradigm shift in the population model where the rate of growth has been in control as more and more women have started working,” he said,
adding, “which is a good sign, as women are balancing both their jobs as well as their families”.
“When a woman has the power and means to prevent or delay pregnancy, for example, she has more control over her health and realise her full economic potential.” The report found that no country can claim that all of its citizens enjoy reproductive rights at all times.
Most couples cannot have the number of children they want because they either lack economic and social support to achieve their preferred family size, or the means to control their fertility.
To make freedom of choice a reality, says the report, countries can prioritise universal access to quality reproductive healthcare; ensure better education, including age-appropriate sexuality education; advocate for a change in men’s attitudes to be supportive of the rights and aspirations of women and girls; and make it easier for couples to have more children, if they want them, by enabling greater work-life balance through measures such as affordable child care.