…not Melinda Gates!
Opinion: Want to Empower Women Worldwide? Give Them Access to Contraceptives
Melinda Gates shares why she advocates for over 225 million women around the globe who still lack access to modern contraceptives.
By Melinda Gates
PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 3, 2017
Like most women I know, I have used contraceptives for many years. I knew I wanted to work both before and after becoming a mom, so I delayed getting pregnant until Bill and I were sure we were ready to start our family. Twenty years later, we have three children, born almost exactly three years apart. None of that happened by accident.
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. 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.
Anyone else sick of hearing what women do with their sex lives? I am. I’m even more sick to hear what supposedly Catholic women are doing. Sure, ladies! Let’s continue to ruin the beauty of the marital embrace. Gag! It’s also a little annoying to hear “I wanted” a million times. Gotta wonder if Melinda, the “good Catholic” she is, thinks about what God wants or even what her children want.
Hey, Melinda, as long as you are telling us you use birth control when you sleep with your husband, why don’t you just tell us what kind you used? Nine times out of ten with a bazillionaire like Melinda, it’s going to be an abortifacient. It’s just more effective when trying to make sure that a child doesn’t see daylight.
Really, re-read this paragraph. If I were her kids, I’d be kind of crushed or in some sort of therapy. On one hand, billionaire mom couldn’t be fulfilled raising children. One more child or a child spaced less than three years apart would have ruined her perfect life. No, that was just beneath her abilities to simply be a mom or a mom of four. Then there’s the other hand where mom’s talking about her sex life. Ick.
In the decade and a half since Bill and I started our foundation, I’ve heard from women all over the world about how important contraceptives are to their ability to take charge of their futures. 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.
Listen, Melinda, I can tell you that children, the ones you put first and love with all of your heart (at least I do), make me fully participate in my community.
Interestingly enough, these women are not really taking charge of their futures, are they? Instead, they’re giving into peer pressure, from you, Melinda, and women like you. They’re taking a pill, slapping on a piece of latex, putting in a sponge, etc., and this more often than not ruins their future. Why? So they can keep up with the Joneses (or the Gateses) and “be fulfilled” apparently in ways those nasty children prevent.
My gosh! We sit around and wonder why there’s child abuse, human trafficking, etc. Get a clue! Children are not the enemy, and yet, that’s really all we’ve heard in the last 50 years or so. Bravo! You reap what you sow, people. Wake up!
You’ve brought the marriage embrace from something spiritual and meaningful down to a simple biological function to be altered with a pill, plastic, sponges, etc. And you’ve reduced children down to either a convenience or an inconvenience. Next time you get out there to battle human trafficking, please remember you’re responsible for it.
Let’s go back to “their futures” which you’ve vastly helped to include STDs, cancer (a myriad of types), pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, blood clots, strokes, etc., etc., etc. Great job, Melinda. Artificial birth control has increased all of these among women.
And not only do moms benefit; their kids benefit, too. In communities where women have access to contraceptives, children stay in school longer, and entire families are healthier, wealthier and far better equipped to break the cycle of poverty.
Please, please tell us how birth control magically does that.
For all of these reasons, in 2012, I co-chaired a summit that brought leaders from around the world together around the goal of expanding expand access to contraceptives for the women who desperately want and need them. The global partnership, called Family Planning 2020, pledged to get 120 million more women access to contraceptives by the year 2020. It was an ambitious but achievable goal—and an important promise to women in the world’s poorest places that they will not be forgotten.
Unfortunately, our progress has not yet lived up to our ambition. We are now more than halfway to the 2020 deadline, but not yet on track to reach 120 million women by the promised date. As of the halfway point in July 2016, we had reached 24 million additional women with family planning services. Unless we begin making up for lost time, we will miss this chance to make this a turning point for women around the world.
24 million women. Wow! That’s a lot of lives altered, and not in a good way.
When I think about what’s at stake over the next three years, I think about the lives of women like Anita and Sushila, both of whom I met last year in a village in India called Kamrawa.
Anita, who guesses she’s about 40 years old, lived most of her life without access to contraceptives. She got married when she was a teenager and became pregnant within a year of her wedding. The birth of her first child was followed by the birth of four more. None of these pregnancies were planned—because without contraceptives, planning her family simply wasn’t an option.
When I asked Anita what it was like to raise so many kids on such a limited income, she got sad and reflective. “I had a lot of problems,” she told me. She spent all of her time and energy looking after her family and trying to keep her household running—preparing food, tending to animals, keeping things clean in a house with no running water—leaving almost no time at all for her to do anything else, even get a job to help with expenses. It was a life of deprivation, hard work and endless worrying.
Did you cut Anita a check for a million? Heck, let’s make it a hundred thousand? Did you do something to fix her state of life? Fix her country? Nope. You suggested to her that having no more children will fix all that and if she hadn’t had the ones she had, she would e in that mess. Yeah, that’s the ticket!
But things in Kamrawa have changed since Anita was a young mother. Now, contraceptives are widely available, and women have the chance to make the reproductive decisions that are right for themselves and their families. As a result, families are smaller, and parents are better able to afford nutritious food and school fees for all of their kids. The whole village is healthier and more prosperous.
Even though her children are grown, Anita is excited about what this means for the next generation. “I don’t want my daughter-in-law to go through the same problems,” she told me.
Interestingly, Melinda doesn’t go onto tell us how Anita’s children are doing now. And, if her children are grown, why isn’t Anita miraculously doing better? She has time for school and self-fulfillment at 40ish.
Another woman I met, Sushila, is a 28-year-old teacher who’s using contraceptives to plan her family and her future. She has two children—a five-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter—and loves being a mom. But Sushila and her husband are committed to limiting the size of their family so that they’re able to give each of their children the lives they deserve.
Please note they do not give life to all of their children. They just give them the lives that they supposedly deserve. Are we really supposed to believe the difference between Anita and Sushila was birth control? Please! Yeah, those two extra children make all the difference. Again, please!
Sushila also told me that as soon as both her kids are in school, she plans to return to her job as a teacher. A generation ago, working moms were almost unheard of in villages like Kamrawa. But now that women have the option to plan their pregnancies, they have many other options, too.
Here’s an idea, how about giving one parent a living wage to support a family? Did you fix that, Melinda? What if their plan was to have a large family? Are you going to help make life in the town possible for that? Nope. You’re just going to help them eliminate those pesky kids.
When you think about the difference between Anita’s life and Sushila’s life, it’s clear that progress is possible. The question is whether we will commit the resources and mobilize the will to ensure that this progress extends to more women in more places.
Clear? Other than the names, we really don’t know what the differences between them are. We are just supposed to take Melinda’s word that the birth control she provided made the difference.
In 2012, we made a promise to women around the world. Our actions over the next three years will decide whether we keep it.
Seriously, Melinda, can you please drop the “Roman Catholic” from your bio now? Catholics see children as a blessing, not a curse. We don’t see them as the enemy or a stumbling block to fulfillment. What we do see as a HUGE stumbling block is denying God’s natural law. You think that poverty is a problem, but just take a look at the results from denying God’s natural law. It’s called death – spiritual, marital and even biological.