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Family planning acquires popularity as number of Saudi working women rises

The interests of Saudi women are no different from that of her Western counterpart as a social being

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As Saudi Arabia witnesses an unprecedented level of economic growth and sustained increase in women employment, family planning is gradually being noticeable especially as working women try to strike a balance between holistic child rearing and their social life.

According to Dr. Emad R. Sagr, a renowned Saudi and obstetrics and gynecology consultant at the International Medical Center, higher education level among Saudi women in the last several decades has resulted in rapid change in the socio-demographic pattern of the Saudi community, giving rise to a new phenomenon of family planning as women have the predilection for work.

He observed an overall rapid change in the socio-demographic pattern of the Saudi community, especially the changes concerning women’s education and work playing pivotal factor in changing fertility beliefs and behaviors with more tendencies to birth spacing.

On the sidelines of a seminar on contraceptives held in Jeddah recently, Dr. Sagr told the Saudi Gazette that the interest of Saudi woman is no different from that of her Western counterpart as a social being. He noted that for the last couple of decades, pregnancy among Saudi women have trickled out as education pervades in the young generation of female Saudis.

In 1970, literacy rates for women stood at just two percent. Four decades later, Saudi Arabia now boasts a female literacy rate of 91 percent (compared to 97 percent for men), with claim to have almost completely eradicated illiteracy among younger generations of women.

The Saudi education ministry released statistics showing that women constitute almost 52 percent of university graduates inside the kingdom, while more than 35,000 female Saudis studied abroad in 2014.

Women’s education and work become an important factor in changing fertility beliefs and behaviors with more tendencies to birth spacing and, consequently, the use of contraceptives, Dr. Sagr noted.

He said there is a significant increase in contraceptive use among working women, 30 years and older, with a higher level of education, and those having a large number of children. Multiple regression models revealed that the significant determinants of the use of contraceptives were women’s working and education. The study recommended sustained efforts to increase awareness and motivation for proper contraceptive use.

In the light of this, MSD proffers several contraceptive options that are safe and easy to use. The highlight of the lecture was on the vaginal ring which is used once a month.

Dr. Sagr explained that “there’s not one that suits all” (contraceptive) as the choice varies on the individual’s needs.

“Family planning is OK,” Dr. Sagr further said, “for mom care, better life and aiding in maintaining the mother’s health.”

This article was first published by the Saudi Gazette on March 20, 2016.