‘Contraceptives greatest anti-poverty innovation’

Melinda Gates

Melinda Gates

LONDON. – Contraceptives are “one of the greatest anti-poverty innovations the world has ever known”, philanthropist Melinda Gates said yesterday, calling for family planning to be a global priority.

Access to birth control boosts economic productivity by allowing women to earn an income and leads to smaller families with more resources to spend on children’s health and education, Gates said.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was co-hosting an international summit in London on family planning, where donors were expected to raise at least $2.5 billion to expand access to contraception.

“Contraceptives empower women. And empowered women . . . well, they transform societies,” Gates said, according to an advance copy of her speech. The foundation will announce an additional $375 million for family planning over the next four years.

The summit comes at a critical time, with US President Donald Trump having said he will end funding to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations agency which deals with family planning, sexual and reproductive health.

The Trump administration also reinstated a policy blocking US funding to overseas groups that perform or provide information about abortion. Gates said she was “deeply troubled” by the proposed cuts. “If empowering women is more than just rhetoric for the president, he will prove it by funding family planning,” she added.

Gates, who is married to Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, said contraception allowed her to finish her education, pursue a career in technology and plan when she had her children.

“My family, my career, and my life are the direct result of having access to contraceptives,” she said. “But many women around the world get pregnant “too young, too old and too often”, Gates said.

“In Malawi, everyone I met told me they knew a woman who had died in pregnancy,” she said. “In India, I sat in a circle of women and asked if anyone had lost a child. Every single woman raised her hand.”

Some 214 million women and girls in developing countries cannot get access to contraceptives, experts say.

Meeting that need could help avert 67 million unintended pregnancies every year, thereby preventing the deaths of 76,000 women from pregnancy and childbirth related complications, they say. Universal access to reproductive health services would lead to economic benefits of more than $430 billion a year as well, they say.

“Family planning has the power to change a whole country’s trajectory and help lift people out of grinding poverty,” Priti Patel, Britain’s minister for international development, said in a statement.

Gates said contraceptives were “one of the smartest investments countries can make”.

“At the individual level, contraceptives make lives better. In the aggregate, they transform economies.” – Reuters.

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  • nelson moyo

    The tube is still the best way to go both my father and grandfather reckon

  • Jonah15

    Your are not serious hama. If a higher population equal development as you say, developing countries would economic powerhouses due to our large populations. Resources are already depleted and you advocate for more people. Ironically both Bulawayo and Hre were economically booming with low population and the standard of living was high. We used to go for picnics at Hre gardens listening to live bands right now hapana pekutsika. The city has experienced an exponential population growth yet the infrastructure has not matched the growth in fact Harare right now should have a million people max to cope. In developed nations, areas with large populations tend to have high crime rates and low quality of life. This is why white people are people are leaving Europe for countries like Zealand and Australia were there are open spaces and fewer people. If you have been to Lagos, Nairobi, Maputo, Kinshasa you will find out that the more people you have in confined spaces, the more filth and suffering you have. Those places were never built to cope with current large numbers. Roads, pavements and buildings become dilapidated, jobs, housing, public transport a nightmare. On a micro level the dollar can do more with few kids than a dozen. Tragic how those who cannot afford to provide for their kids breeds them like rabbits. You also refered to India and China, there is a reason why there are entire Asian cities in Europe and North America, chasing better quality of life. Hope you were just bring sarcastic with your comment. I am with Melinda Gates on this one.

  • Dimitri

    Africa has long been a haven for ignorance and poor life decisions. Too many people results in filth and depleted resources in any African country. Everyone needs to be informed about the hazards of breeding children as if they are rats and rabbits and ultimately fail to provide for them. Those same people are the ones who then beg for alms on national TV and complaining abut the government not doing enough for them. This is no longer 1520 when a big family could be supported. These days family planing must be a priority so as to make a comfortable life for the children and for the parents…………..well done Melinda Gates.