Women's autonomy, education and employment in Oman and their influence on contraceptive use

Reprod Health Matters. 2004 May;12(23):144-54. doi: 10.1016/s0968-8080(04)23113-5.


Since 1970 political and economic changes have brought about great improvements in health and education in Oman, and since 1994 the government has provided free contraceptives to all married couples in primary health care centres. Despite rapid socio-economic development, the fertility rate was 4.2 in 2001. The aim of this study was to define baseline data on ever-married women's empowerment in Oman from a national study in 2000, analyse the correlates of women's empowerment and the effect of empowerment on unmet need for contraception. Two indicators of empowerment were used: women's involvement in decision-making and freedom of movement. Bivariate analysis was used to link these measures and their proxies, education and employment status, with use of a family planning method. Education was a key indicator of women's status. Unmet contraceptive need for women exposed to pregnancy was nearly 25%, but decreased significantly with educational level and paid employment. While empowered women were more likely to use contraception, women's education was a better predictor of "met need" than autonomy, as traditional factors and community influence remain strong. For nearly half the 1,830 women in the study, the husband decided whether contraception was used. Fewer than 1% were using contraception before their first child as women are expected to have a child within the first year of marriage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Choice Behavior
  • Contraception Behavior / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Decision Making
  • Educational Status*
  • Employment*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Oman / epidemiology
  • Personal Autonomy*
  • Poverty
  • Pregnancy
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sex Education* / methods
  • Social Environment
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Spouses / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Women's Rights*
  • Women, Working / statistics & numerical data*