For at least a billion of us—the estimated number of people who use birth control—contraception is not a controversial subject. At least, not when we’re using it ourselves, in private. And if Melinda Gates has anything to do with it, it won’t be controversial when we speak up in public, either.
Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, says that for many of us, using contraception to plan if and when to have children is a routine fact of everyday life—and one without controversy. But, as she pointed out in the TED talk you can watch below, birth control has become controversial. And those who are hurt most are some of the poorest people in the world, who don’t have access to contraceptives they want to help them plan healthy families.
So, Melinda Gates is asking people who support the idea that there is no controversy in contraception to take the pledge: “I believe that every girl and woman deserves the opportunity to determine her own future.”
Reproductive health and family planning have been central to PATH’s mission since our organization began more than 30 years ago. Our founders were three researchers in family planning who saw an urgent need and prime opportunity for ensuring that contraceptives reached people who needed them, especially those in developing countries. Now, we develop reproductive health technologies, generate evidence that helps countries develop supportive policies and strengthen their family planning programs, expand access to services, strengthen health systems, and introduce innovative ways to engage communities.
This type of work is likely to be in the news this month. On July 11 in London, the UK government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are hosting an international summit on family planning. The goal is to make high-quality, voluntary family planning services available to an additional 120 million women in the world’s poorest countries by 2020.
We’ll be talking more about our work in family planning next week. Until then, check out the No Controversy website, tell your own story, and take the pledge.