Offering women in the developing world access to family planning has the potential to “transform” lives and help prevent larger crises in the world, the philanthropist Melinda Gates has said.
Mrs Gates, who co-founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with her Microsoft magnate husband, said that many women were facing “life or death” crises through not being able to take control over their fertility.
She also called on the US President Donald Trump to reconsider his stance on family planning, saying that a “good businessperson” would recognise it as a sound investment.
Mrs Gates was speaking today at a Family Planning Summit in London, an international conference on funding contraception in the world’s poorest countries.
She said that seeing the change her foundation’s world was bringing to many women in the developing world showed the huge improvements it could bring to communities within a single generation.
Many women in the developing world have little control over family planning.
Falling pregnant frequently means they are often forced to give up schooling or ambitions of work – which then makes it harder to provide for their children and locks families in a circle of poverty.
Mrs Gates said that access to contraction “transforms everything about a woman’s life.”
“If she had access to contraceptives then she can stay in school, she can get a job, she can decide to have children when she’s ready.”
That in turn would help families to support themselves within their communities, reducing the flow of migrants desperately seeking a better life in the developed world, she added.
The businesswoman also had criticism for US President Donald Trump, who has slashed federal funding to a host of projects and has taken aim at Planned Parenthood clinics in the states.
Asked whether what he was doing was damaging women, she said: I think if you believe in women, you fund things for women.”
“Move forward, don’t move back,” she urged him.
“We have been taking huge strides forward for women all over the globe: that’s what the US stands for.
“A one dollar investment [in this field] gets a six dollar return – if you’re a good businessperson, you put that kind of investment down.”