Melinda Gates pledged $560 million yesterday to a campaign which will allow women from some of the poorest countries in the world to access contraception.
Unveiling her plans at the London Summit on Family Planning, Ms Gates joined the British and U.S. government in pledging to the cause, which aims to extend family planning services to 120 million women around the world who want, but cannot get access to contraception.
According to organisers of the summit, there are around 220 million women around the world who want reliable access to contraception by 2020. They claim that this year will see 80 million unintended pregnancies in developing countries, with around 800 women dying every day as a result of pregnancy-related complications- the leading cause of death for teenage girls in the developing world.
"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," Gates said to Reuters.
"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."
It is hoped that the involvement of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation would help ‘ratchet up’ the concern for family planning in developing countries, which has been controversial since the forced sterilisations in India in the 1970’s.
However, the involvement of Gates, a Catholic herself, has been criticised by some Catholic groups in the U.S.
It is estimated that sustaining the current use of contraceptives by 260 women in the 69 poorest countries will cost around $10 billion. The U.S. government have pledged $640 million for family planning in the next year, and pledges totaling $4.3 billion from the British government.