American businesswoman and philanthropist Melinda Gates has reiterated her pledge to provide access to contraceptives for 120 million women around the world by the year 2020, in an op-ed for National Geographic this month.
Gates has been fighting for this since 2012, when she co-chaired the Family Planning 2020 summit and when she originally announced her goal. “When women are able to plan their pregnancies around their goals for themselves and their families, they are also better able to finish their education, earn an income, and fully participate in their communities,” Gates wrote.
This aim was what Gates called an “ambitious but achievable goal,” yet progress has been slow. With just three years until the deadline, her Family Planning 2020 partnership is not on track to fulfill its promise. As of July 2016, it had reached 24 million women with family planning services. But that is not near the hoped-for 120 million.
Ultimately, the question is whether Family Planning 2020 can commit enough resources to provide contraceptives on such a large scale. Gates does not want to “miss this chance to make this a turning point for women.”
The partnership has undertaken a bold stride toward access given the recent ban Congress placed on federal funding for abortions under President Trump’s administration this year. Global nonprofit organization Planned Parenthood, which provides reproductive health services to millions of people around the world, may also be defunded when the House votes to repeal Obamacare. Gates believes it is access to modern contraceptives that empowers women to make decisions for themselves, something worth fighting for.
Correction: This story has been corrected to show that Gates originally made her pledge in 2012.