GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/25 February) – Three out of four Filipino women who want to plan their pregnancies end up having one child more than they wanted, results of the 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said.
The survey found 75% or 3 out of 4 women in the childbearing ages of 15-49 years wanted to have only two children. Most women said they wanted to stop having children (60% of the 75%) and the rest wanted to have children at a later time to prevent pregnancies occurring too close to each other (15% of the 75%).
Overall, the survey noted a 31% rate of unmet need for family planning among sexually active women in both married and unmarried states, which consists of 17% of the age group 15-49 who want to practice some form of family planning (FP) but do not have access to them, and 14% who are using ineffective traditional methods such as withdrawal.
PSA estimated that by end-2018 there would be 27,713,110 women of reproductive ages 15-49. Based on this estimate, the unmet need for family planning would mean roughly more than 8 million women.
The agency projected a total population of 107 million as of end-2018, with 3.22 births per minute.
The survey placed the country’s total fertility rate at 2.7, which is more than the women’s ideal of two children.
Fertility rate, a demographic indicator that estimates the actual number of children each woman would have in her childbearing years, has gradually gone down over the years, from 3 children in the last survey in 2013.
The PSA also noted the fertility rates that are higher than the national average of 2.7 in some of the country’s 17 regions, most notably, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Bicol and Western Visayas with women having 3.8 to 4.1 children.
“Family planning is still low among married women who are in the lowest socioeconomic levels and women who did not attend school,”said Benjamin de Leon, president of Forum for Family Planning and Development Inc.
“Filipino women should be able to have the number of children that they want,” said de Leon. “If women are able to achieve this, they are also able to lead a better quality of life for their children and families.”
He stressed that “family planning is a human right that must be accorded to every woman who wants to practice it.”
He said “a woman who has the means and the power to stop or postpone another pregnancy also has the capacity to attain education or be employed and fulfill her dreams.” (H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)