Melinda Gates praises UK’s commitment to funding access to contraception
It is estimated that around 214 million women globally do not have access to birth control.
Philanthropist Melinda Gates, wife of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, has said the UK has shown it is truly committed to funding access to contraception for the world’s poorest women, “no matter” who is in government.
Mrs Gates, who co-chairs the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with her husband, said regardless of who was in power, the UK had shown “real leadership” in helping to tackle lack of access to contraception overseas.
“No matter what happens with the UK leadership, we’ve seen over these years that they’ve increased their support of family planning,” she said.
She added that the UK Government’s leadership on the issue had encouraged other countries, like Canada, France and Germany, to fund similar causes.
“I think it’s been well established that it’s something that they’re going to stand for for a long time.”
Mrs Gates was speaking at the Family Planning Summit in London, an international conference on funding contraception in the world’s poorest countries.
She also said the pledges recently made by her organisation were not in response to US President Donald Trump’s plans to drastically reduce access to contraception within the US and stop its funding overseas.
“The 375 million dollars (£291 million) that the foundation announced, that is absolutely not a reaction to President Trump,” she said.
“There is nothing anyone can do to fill the bucket of the money that the US has committed to family planning and I’m still very optimistic, although his proposal from the administration is to zero out that budget.”
Mrs Gates said she was looking to American politicians to stop Mr Trump’s proposed changes.
“It’s a very well supported bipartisan issue so I’m looking to congress to hold that funding.”
The Family Planning Summit is co-organised by the British Government, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Dr Natalia Kanem, acting executive director of the UNFPA, said one of the summit’s successes had been that organisations and governments involved had given a further 30 million women access to modern contraception since the last meeting in 2016.
“We’ve seen women marching to defend the rights of women to be able to control our bodies and our reproductive health,” she said.
More than 200 protesters gathered in Soho, central London, on Tuesday for a “No Contraceptives” clinic, to campaign for the reproductive rights of the estimated 214 million women around the world who do not have access to contraception.