During previous discussions targeting developments in the region, the calls for family planning, especially those related to birth control, had always been faced with confrontational or hostile answers because this issue was considered a foreign conspiracy. This was until houses and cities became overcrowded. The result is the imbalances we are currently witnessing. It is not easy to find solutions in terms of jobs, housing, treatments and a long series of modern requirements.
However, as government and individual incomes dropped, hostility and hesitation shrank. We can see that people are now more aware of this dilemma. This is real life ruled by a fragile balance - blessings may not last forever. In the past, diseases, epidemics, famines and natural disasters were limiting the population growth.
As science progresses with the development of medicine, the construction of dams, the development of agriculture, the chemistry of food preservation, human medical fertilization and immunization, the equation of the relation between humans, land and environment has changed. It is not a coincidence that most of the industrial countries are committed to birth control while poor communities are not.
In our region, it has never been possible to impose family planning. The Arab governments that tried it, have failed. Opposition groups have provoked the people against political regimes every time they try to suggest family planning, for political rivalry issuesAbdulrahman al-Rashed
In our region, it has never been possible to impose family planning. The Arab governments that tried it, have failed. Opposition groups have provoked the people against political regimes every time they try to suggest family planning, for political rivalry issues.
The reasons for the failure are not limited to the opposition’s efforts, as most are actually caused by a lack of awareness and the ease of life in countries that depend most on oil income.
Understanding the implications
Raising awareness remains the best way to change society’s bad habits and motivate people to adapt their financial potentials to their wishes and expectations. Those who do not have a good financial income, have to think thoroughly about how to manage their house and family. For financial reasons, the majority will not have large families and will not build houses with many unnecessary rooms and salons. They will gradually discover that the family bill is not about the rent of the house and the price of the food, because they will also be paying for the education and medical treatment of their children. The bigger the family, the greater the living costs.
What is happening today is a correction to the random previous arrangements, including those of running the household, which will force many to take family and personal decisions for economic reasons, such as early marriage, polygamy, number of children and the employment of women. It will not be easy to correct the past, as there are already large families with small incomes. But it is possible to work on the awareness of new generations on understanding the realities of life and the outcomes of their decisions.
Yet we are aware that society will not accept governments interfering in their families’ private matters. Our society will not want to be taken down the same route as China and it’s one child policy. So the only choice is to focus on social and educational awareness from a younger age. Correcting the market economies that are currently under the spotlight, namely the reduction of subsidies on major commodities and the increase of the cost of living, requires family education and awareness that match the new changes.
This article is also available in Arabic
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed