The overall fertility rate of Malaysian women has decreased rapidly throughout the years, from three children per women in year 2000 to 1.9 children in 2012, as women are more focused on their career development.

Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim said this was considered a crucial issue that her ministry was looking into as declining fertility rates could cause a stagnant population in years to come if no measures were taken.

"Women now have a different mindset compared to the women of yesteryear. They are more concerned about developing their career, thus resulting in many of them ignoring the need to have more children."

She said this to reporters after officiating at the 3rd Asian Population Association (APA) Conference here yesterday.

Rohani said another reason for the declining fertility rate among Malaysian women was the preference to remain single as marriage was considered a hindrance to their career development.

Due to this, Rohani said her ministry aimed to increase the fertility rate which was considered to be below the displacement level of 2.0.

"We are doing our level best to create awareness among women by organising various workshops and talks to educate them on the need to raise the fertility level in this country," she added.

On the APA conference, Rohani said Malaysia had achieved many of the targets set by the 20-year Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD-Poa) which ended last year and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set in 2000.

"I am happy to say that my ministry has played its role in achieving the targets and goals of the ICPD-Poa and the MDGs, especially in the areas of poverty reduction, gender equality, family development and adolescent reproductive health," she said.

The four-day international conference which commenced today, gathers more than 600 participants including policy makers, demographers and health experts from over 40 nations across Asia.

The association (APA) is responsible for promoting research, sharing of knowledge, developing the capacity of population institutions in the region and engaging in advocacy and policy dialogues to advance the development agenda in the region.