WOMAN OF THE WEEK: MELINDA GATES
“I’m Catholic, but women need access to contraceptives.”
Pushing politics and religion aside, Melinda Gates has vowed to increase access to contraceptives for women worldwide.
Gates is working with the UK government to build a Family Planning program designed to provide 120 million women in the world’s poorest countries with access to contraceptives by 2020. Her company, The Gates Foundation has pledged $560 million to support the initiative.
Although maternal deaths have been in decline since 1990, studies show that providing contraception to women who want it can reduce the number of women who die while pregnant by almost a third. It’s also widely acknowledged that families in developing countries suffer less from the effects of poverty when they are able to make decisions on having children.
As a Catholic, though, Gates has admitted to struggling with the concept.
“Of course I wrestled with this,” she told The Guardian.
“As a Catholic I believe in this religion, there are amazing things about this religion, amazing moral teachings that I do believe in, but I also have to think about how we keep women alive.
“I believe in not letting women die, I believe in not letting babies die, and to me that’s more important than arguing about what method of contraception [is right].”
Gates also explained that her life’s work will be to give women all over the planet a voice.
“This is about saying, ‘this is about women.’ This is about giving them access to the tools that they want, so they can decide if and when they want to have a child.”
Melinda speaks further about promoting her contraception program here.