Melinda to Colbert: Women Want Contraceptives

Posted on June 28, 2012

Gates Foundation, June 28, 2012 by Melinda Gates

As a young woman, I felt confident in my future because I knew I had the power to plan my family. I knew I could make plans and follow my dreams. What if every girl and woman in the world, even the poorest, had the opportunity to determine her future?

This is what I talked about with Stephen Colbert on his show last night.

As I travel and talk to women in developing countries, what’s universally clear is their desire to determine their future. Women everywhere want to live a healthy and productive life. They want what’s best for their children.

When women and girls are empowered to plan their families, everyone wins. Yet many women in the poorest countries of the world don’t have this basic right. More than 200 million women don’t have access to contraceptives.

There are mothers who tell me that if they had access to contraceptives, they’d be able to feed and educate their children. And teenage girls tell me that they’ve had to drop out of school because of unintended pregnancies. If they had access to contraceptives, they say, they could have stayed in school longer.

Surely, there’s no controversy in all of us coming together to help women and girls lead healthy and productive lives. Join me in this critical effort by taking a pledge. Pledge your support around the uncontroversial idea that every girl and woman deserves the opportunity to determine her future.

On July 11, I’ll be in London with world leaders who will gather to pledge their support to help transform the lives of the world’s poorest women and girls. Together, we can raise our voices for the millions of women and girls who want access to contraceptives but don’t have it.