Melinda and Bill Gates have released their Foundation’s annual letter.
As the tradition now goes, at the top of each year, Bill and Melinda Gates release the Gate’s Foundation Annual Letter. Last year’s letter focused on how time and energy (electricity) are two factors that heavily impact poverty and health across all countries.
This year the letter in its totality was a look back at the work that the Foundation has been able to accomplish over the last 10 years — 122 million, number of children’s lives saved since 1990; an increase of child vaccinations to 86% (the highest ever); and in what is especially close to Melinda’s heart, 300 million women who now have family planning options available to them.
“It’s no accident that my three kids were born three years apart—or that I didn’t have my first child until I’d finished graduate school and devoted a decade to my career at Microsoft,” explains Gates in a separate letter in The Broadsheet newsletter. “My family, my career, my life as I know it are all the direct result of contraceptives. And now, I realize how lucky that makes me.”
For the last 10 years Melinda has become an advocate for the importance of family planning. According to the Gates’ letter, in 2016, 124,000 women’s lives were saved thanks to family planning tools.
The benefits of birth control range from allowing a woman the freedom to decide when she is ready to introduce children into her life to giving the children themselves a greater chance of survival.
“When women in developing countries space their births by at least three years, their babies are almost twice as likely to reach their first birthday,” explains Bill Gates.
“Contraceptives are also one of the greatest antipoverty innovations in history. When women are able to time and space their pregnancies, they are more likely to advance their education and earn an income—and they’re more likely to have healthy children.”
In the US alone, 62% of women of reproductive age are currently on some form of birth control. Organizations like Planned Parenthood — which is currently at risk from getting defunded — make birth control options easily accessible to anyone, including those without health insurance that will cover birth control.
Without health insurance, birth control can range from $20-800 in the US.