“We made a promise to women around the world. Our actions over the next three years will decide whether we keep it”
When all is said and done, Melinda Gates may leave behind a greater legacy than her computer pioneer, billionaire husband.
First, there is the historic work they are doing together with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She’s even hoping to open President Trump’s eyes to the value of international aid. But in 2012, Melinda started her own vital organization, Family Planning 2020, which has an ambitious goal of expanding birth control access to an additional 120 million women by 2020.
“The decision about whether and when to get pregnant was a decision that Bill and I made based on what was right for me and what was right for our family — and that’s something I feel lucky about,” Gates writes in a new op-ed, updating progress on the group’s objective. “There are still over 225 million women around the world who don’t have access to the modern contraceptives they need to make these decisions for themselves.”
Gates cites the example of several women who did not have access to birth control and became pregnant while living in economically challenging conditions. It would be one thing, if this was a voluntary choice. But many of these women had hopes and dreams of pursuing education and career goals that could have changed not only their own economic standing but that of their entire families, including the children they might someday choose to have.
In the four years since Gates launched Family Planning 2020, the group has expanded birth control access to 24 million women. That’s an incredible feat but one she acknowledges in her op-ed that puts the group far off pace for its 2020 goal:
“Unless we begin making up for lost time, we will miss this chance to make this a turning point for women around the world,” she writes.”
“When women are able to plan their pregnancies around their goals for themselves and their families, they are also better able to finish their education, earn an income, and fully participate in their communities.”