The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and a few well-off nations said they pledged more than $2.6 billion to developing countries’ family planning endeavors. The announcement was made at a summit in London, which aimed to acquire new funds to provide 120 million women access to contraception by year 2020.
More than 150 leaders from donating nations, developing countries, the private sector, and international agencies attended the summit. Britain, Australia, Norway, and South Korea announced they were doubling their pledges to the cause.
“We exceeded our target,” British International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said. “Enabling an additional 120 million women in the world’s poorest countries to access and use contraception, something women in the developed world take for granted, will save millions of lives and enable girls and women to determine their own futures.”
He also said that “We should avoid the pitfalls from the past, where controversy compromised the message. This is about giving women the ability to choose for themselves.”
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also issued a statement saying reproductive rights are “among the most basic of human rights,” and added that in “too many places, these rights are denied.”
The summit organizers stated the efforts may result in 200,000 less women dying during childbirth or pregnancy, about 110 million less unwanted pregnancies, over 50 million less abortions, and 3 million less babies dying within a year of their birth.
The Bill and Melinda gates foundation will donate $560 million over the span of 8 years. Melinda Gates herself dismissed concerns several religious groups expressed about birth control. “For the last 30 years we haven’t solved the problem because of the controversy,” she said. “We are providing access to contraception. It is the best way to prevent abortion.”