The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced $2.6 billion in new commitments from private and public organizations, donor and developing countries, and international agencies to boost the number of women across the globe with access to voluntary family planning services and supplies.
Announced on Wednesday at the London Summit on Family Planning, which was co-hosted by the UK Department for International Development and the Gates Foundation, the commitments will be used to deliver — at an estimated cost of $4.3 billion — contraceptives to an additional 120 million women and girls in the world's poorest countries over the next eight years. The commitments include $140 million over eight years from the Gates Foundation, $50 million over eight years from Bloomberg Philanthropies, and $5 million over five years from the Aman Foundation in Pakistan, as well as commitments from more than twenty developing countries to address the policy, financing, and delivery barriers that keep women from accessing contraceptive information, services, and supplies. All told, the new commitments will result in 200,000 fewer women dying in pregnancy and childbirth, more than 110 million fewer unintended pregnancies, over 50 million fewer abortions, and nearly three million fewer newborns dying in their first year of life.
Research has shown that contraceptive use among women can yield up to $6 in savings for every dollar spent on health, housing, water, and other public services. Improved access to contraceptives also can lead to more education and greater opportunities for girls in developing countries, including those in sub-Saharan Africa, where up to 25 percent of girls drop out of school as a result of unintended pregnancies.
"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," said Gates Foundation co-chair Melinda Gates. "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."
For a full list of commitments, visit the London Summit on Family Planning Web site.