Another 120 million women and girls in developing countries will get access to contraception and family planning services by 2020, thanks to an additional $2.6 billion in commitments from countries and private donors around the world.
The announcement came on July 11 at the London Summit on Family Planning, a major conference sponsored by the British government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
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“When I travel and talk to women around the world they tell me that access to contraceptives can often be the difference between life and death," Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, said in a statement. "Today is about listening to their voices, about meeting their aspirations, and giving them the power to create a better life for themselves and their families."
The foundation expects that these efforts, estimated to cost a total of $4.3 billion, will save 200,000 women from dying in pregnancy and childbirth, as well as prevent more than 110 million unintended pregnancies. Current resources — $10 billion over the next eight years, mostly from country governments — support the use of contraception for 260 million women already.
A recent study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University similarly reported that providing more contraceptives to women in developing countries could potentially cut the maternal death rate by almost a third. The study, also funded by the Gates Foundation, indicated that about 358,000 women and three million babies die every year worldwide due to complications from pregnancy or childbirth.
At the summit, countries such as the United Kingdom and Norway made hefty commitments to contraceptive access, pledging $800 and $200 million respectively over the next eight years.
Not only does contraceptive access improve education and opportunities for women, but countries can see long-term benefits such as savings in the costs of health and other public services.
“The commitments made at the summit today will support the rights of women to determine freely, and for themselves, whether, when and how many children they have,” Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell said in a statement.
Do you think this move will help the lives of women in developing countries? Let us know in the comments.
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Kelly Zhou is a student and Bay Area native who loves online multimedia and politics. Email Kelly | @kellyzhou