Melinda Gates: Eliminating the Controversy of Contraceptives
This morning on the Marketplace Morning Report, interviewer Jeremy Hobson spoke with Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, about the controversy around contraception and the upcoming London Summit on Family Planning. Gates’s first statement pointed out that there are a staggering 200 million women who would like to have access to contraceptives but don’t. She added that these contraceptives have the ability to be “life-transforming” for these women. One main problem is the continued cuts to family planning budgets worldwide. Though contraceptives have been shown to be an important tool to improving health and development, they have been deemed a controversy and continued to have their funding cut. Hobson brought up the recent turmoil around contraceptives in the U.S., and Gates responded with an astonishing statistic, “99 percent of women -- say they use, in the U.S., contraceptives” and she added that women all over the world don’t have the same access as we do here.
Access is not the only barrier to contraceptive use either, as Hobson points out with questions about education. Gates agreed that educating women both about contraceptives and generally can increase contraceptive use as well as numerous other economic improvements to the family and often the larger community. Another point that Gates stresses is that many of the women she meets in the developing world are aware of the methods and forms of contraceptives and just don’t have consistent access or access at all. The interview goes on to talk about why Gates is involved in this issue above others and she responded as she had in many other interviews and speeches by explaining that this is what women are asking for globally. Gates feels it’s her responsibility as a powerful woman to help give these families options.
With Melinda Gates’s interview and her recent speeches, she is standing at the forefront of putting family planning back on the global agenda. With World Population Day just a day away, as well as the London Summit on Family Planning, there is hope worldwide for this important issue to get the support it deserves. The Summit is a pivotal meeting hosted by the UK Department for International Development and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with UNFPA and other partners, that aims to garner international support for access to family planning and contraceptives. The main goal of the conference is to provide contraceptives to an additional 120 million women and girls in the world’s poorest countries.
For more information, access the full recorded and transcribed interview here.
To learn more about the Summit, check out Elizabeth Futrell’s blog post, The London Summit on Family Planning: Renewing Global Commitment to Contraceptive Access.