Now that’s clout! There are few life experiences that determine EVE’s lives more than child bearing. So a policy decision by Melinda Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will literally save millions of EVE’s lives over the next decade and completely change the futures of millions more. Simply put, she has made family planning and access to contraceptives her new priority for the foundation’s worldwide advocacy work.
Beginning at the Family Planning Summit in London in July, 2012, public and private leaders began a campaign to allow 120 million more women access to birth control by 2020. And the Gates Foundation has made a $1.1 billion commitment to family planning over the next seven years. Ms. Gates stated, “Access to contraceptives is high on the world’s list of priorities again. But it’s more than that. … We have been working on a new approach that gives women what they really want: voluntary access to high-quality education, health services, and contraceptives. When defined broadly in this way, family planning can be what it should be: a strong link on a chain of good health for women and their children.”
Being able to plan for children and afford to feed, clothe, and educate them is the dream of millions of EVE in developing nations where the birth rate can still be as high as 7.2 children per woman. But authoritarian policies like forced sterilizations in India in the ‘70s and China’s state-mandated one-child gave family planning a bad name. And religious opposition in the U.S. to EVE’s use of contraceptives has drowned out their voices in recent years.
But this is a new campaign driven by a bottom-up demand from EVE themselves. As Melinda Gates traveled the world for other Foundation initiatives, she heard the same desperate pleas from EVE like Sadi, a mother of five in Niger, Africa. Sadi told Gates, “Don’t you see that we’re struggling here? I can’t feed these children. How can I possibly have another one?” Sadi has “only” five children because she does have some access to contraceptives, but it can be difficult to access and undependable. And that’s part of what Melinda Gates hopes to remedy.
This new focus on family planning is a natural fit with the foundation’s belief in, and commitment to, “the boundless dignity of all people” because family planning goes hand in hand with women’s empowerment. “We really have to ground this in women’s rights and human rights,” Gates told The Daily Beast. 1
When EVE can plan and space births we will live in a different global society. It’s as simple as that.
1 - May 29, 2013 – by Katie Baker @ http://www.thedailybeast.com/witw/articles/2013/05/28/melinda-gates-on-keeping-family-planning-and-women-s-rights-on-the-global-health-agenda.html