By Melinda Gates
This week, I’m in London to mark an important milestone. Five years ago, leaders from all over the world came together to insist on making family planning a global priority. Together, we made a promise to enable 120 million more women and girls to use modern contraceptives by 2020 with the goal of achieving universal access to contraceptives for everyone, everywhere.
Now, we’re back in the U.K. to celebrate our progress and prepare to meet the challenges ahead. I truly believe the conversation around contraceptives is one of the most important conversations the world will have this year.
I’ve used contraceptives for most of my life, but like a lot of people, I thought of family planning as a personal issue?—?not a global one. I couldn’t imagine speaking about it publicly.
Everything changed when Bill and I launched our foundation, and I started spending time with women in the world’s poorest places. Everywhere I went, the conversation turned to contraceptives. I met women who were getting pregnant too young, too old, and too often for their bodies to handle. I met women who were desperate not to get pregnant again because they couldn’t afford to feed or care for the children they already had. In Malawi, everyone I met knew someone who had died in pregnancy. In India, I asked a group of women if anyone had lost a child, and every single woman raised her hand.
When I started studying the data, I learned that contraceptives are an essential part of the healthier, more prosperous world we’re all working toward. When a woman has access to contraceptives, she tends to have fewer children. Families can devote more resources to each child’s nutrition, health, and education, setting them up for a better future. Women are freer to work outside the home, earn an income, and contribute to the economy.
Read more at Medium.