With access to a range of contraceptives and information about birth spacing, women like Sharmila Devi are able to raise healthier families (Dedaur village, India, 2013).

In a February op-ed in National Geographic, Melinda Gates reiterated her commitment to contraceptive access for all women.

In 2012, Gates co-chaired a global partnership called Family Planning 2020. The goal was to provide contraception to 120 million more women by 2020, which she called a “ambitious but achievable.” As of July 2016, the partnership has provided 24 million women with family planning services. They have 3 years left to go, but so far are not on track to reach their goal by 2020.

Gates has met women from all over the world and talked about the importance of contraception in taking charge of their futures. She said the time crunch to 2020 is only going to make her work even harder to uphold the birth control pledge. She wants to make up for lost time to make the year 2020 a turning point for women around the world.

Greater contraceptive access would impact millions of women and girls around the world. When women have access to contraceptives, children stay in school longer. Families tend to be healthier better equipped to break the cycle of poverty, Melinda Gates said.

Last week, Bill and Melinda Gates released their annual thank you letter to fellow philanthropist Warren Buffett. The letter discussed the impact of contraception on the lives of women around the world. Gates said that currently 225 million women do not have access to modern contraception. Bill Gates cited a youth survey in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh about the state of contraception. It showed that 64 percent of married teenage girls wanted to postpone their first pregnancy, but only 9 percent had access to modern contraception.

Melinda Gates called contraceptives “one of the greatest antipoverty innovations in history.” Access to contraception has a positive impact on the lives of women, and that ripples down to positively affect girls worldwide.

Currently, the Family Planning 2020 partnership is focusing on South Asia and Africa to reach their goal of providing 120 million more women with access to contraception. Melinda Gates cited in South Asia, a third of women use contraceptives and in Africa, fewer than one in five women do.

If the married teenage girls cited in the Uttar Pradesh study had access to family planning services, it could change their entire future. It would greatly affect their own future as well as the future of their children in a positive way. Families would have more money to invest in their children’s education and health and well being. Generally speaking, the education and future of boys is often prioritized over that of girls. By having access to contraception, families would have the resources to invest in a brighter future for their girls, and all children, which is something to look forward to.

-Sage Daugherty
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

 

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