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Women Need Access To Family Planning Methods That Work For Them

“I spent most of my time this year advocating for better access to family planning around the world,” Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a Foreign Policy 2012 Global Thinker, writes in this Foreign Policy opinion piece. “Early on, I told everybody who would listen that I wanted to help put contraceptives back on top of the global health and development agenda,” she states, adding, “Visiting women in developing countries, however, I realized that this framing didn’t quite capture my message. … What was missing were human beings, the women across the world who have told me over and over again that having access to birth control methods that work for them would change their futures.”

“If you are focused simply on making sure contraceptives are available, you can stockpile condoms and call it a day,” Gates continues, adding, “But if your goal is helping women build the lives they want for themselves and their families, the bar is higher.” She states, “When women have the power to make choices about their families, they tend to decide precisely what demographers, economists, and development experts recommend.” She continues, “Today I tell people that I want to help put women at the center of global health and development work — and that contraceptives are one of the best ways to do that” (11/26).