Melinda Gates: Let's put birth control back on the agenda
Melinda Gates - Philanthropist
Melinda French Gates is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she puts into practice the idea that every life has equal value. Full bio
a totally uncontroversial topic.
it's become incredibly controversial.
will have sex with one another.
should be free to decide
want to conceive a child.
one of these birth control methods
who disagree with this idea.
without any hesitation at all.
to plan their own lives
and more prosperous families.
so broadly accepted in private,
a lot of opposition in public.
when we talk about contraception
because it's about sex.
is to control populations.
to this core idea that men and women
when they want to have a child.
almost completely and totally disappeared
are the people of sub-Saharan Africa
that use contraception
one of the largest states in India.
was its own country,
country in the world.
country in Africa, 10 percent.
in Africa, Senegal.
contraceptives are rarely available.
over and over again
is an injectable.
and they go about four times a year,
to get their injection.
is they can hide it from their husbands,
a woman goes into a clinic in Senegal,
to go get her injection.
sometimes leaves her children,
when it's going to be available again.
across the continent of Africa today.
has become a life-and-death crisis.
who say they don't want to be pregnant
100,000 women a year.
in the first place,
in that first month of life.
these mothers and these children.
we got confused by our own conversation.
progress on this issue,
about what our agenda is.
about population control.
the power to save their lives,
the best possible future.
in the global health community
better in the future --
as you heard earlier, and pneumonia.
millions of children a year.
small plots of land in Africa --
to feed their children.
children are educated around the world.
and most transformative things we can do
to birth control methods
and all Americans, at some point,
about what our agenda is,
waiting to happen
this totally uncontroversial idea.
I grew up in a Catholic home.
a practicing Catholic.
and a principal her entire life.
as a young girl how to read.
for my entire childhood
a high priority in the school.
that I learned in high school.
to question received teachings.
and my peers questioned
talking about contraception
we're going to promote promiscuity.
to be asked about contraception --
had nothing to do with promiscuity.
I wanted to go to college.
female computer science graduates
so I went on to business school
female executives at Microsoft.
when I left my parents' home
to start this new job at Microsoft.
to give me five years of higher education.
down the porch at home --
this great education,
and have kids right away,
that would make me the very happiest.
when I was ready.
exactly sure how to be great parents.
before we had our second child.
that we have three children
the very most for my children?
they want to do in life.
for the foundation around the world
in one called Korogocho --
"standing shoulder to shoulder."
that's pictured here.
about their family life in the slums,
about what they did for birth control.
in the red sweater,
every good thing to this child
every good thing to our children.
to provide every good thing.
from domestic violence.
broach the subject of contraception,
who lack basic education.
who do have knowledge and do have power
to have smaller families.
for a quarter of a millennium,
of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
their family size in the mid-1700s.
this trend spread all across Europe.
as I learned this history,
lines but around cultural lines.
made that change as a group.
for their family,
or whether they were poor.
toward smaller families spread
was driven by an idea --
can exercise conscious control
the ability to affect the future,
went down every decade
until it stabilized.
the contraceptives weren't that good.
in the 1880s, and it took just 50 years
to stabilize in this country.
the transition started in the 1960s,
because of modern contraception.
it's important to pause for a moment
such a contentious issue.
and coercive policies.
adopted very specific numeric targets
having an IUD placed in their bodies.
really smart in this situation.
they got paid six rupees.
and had the IUD removed for one rupee.
were sterilized without their consent.
the Mississippi appendectomy --
were given anesthesia
without their knowledge.
weren't even needed.
wanted to lower their family size.
again and again,
to have smaller families.
have innately different desires.
they will have fewer children.
all women get what they want now?
to some century-long struggle,
was coitus interruptus?
it doesn't need justification.
to bring every good thing to our children
I met a young businesswoman,
out of her home.
would go to the local jeans factory
and resell them.
she had three children,
having children after their third one.
she simply said,
my business if I had another child."
that she was getting out of her business
an education to all three of her children.
about her family's future.
of men and women have gone through.
that they have it exactly right.
over when they have them.
on over 180,000 inhabitants since 1963.
pieces of research that's been running.
were chosen to get contraceptives.
and access to contraception.
following those villages,
quality of life than their neighbors.
to die in childbirth.
to die in the first thirty days of life.
things like livestock or land or savings.
had more schooling.
of effects over millions of families,
economic miracle of the 1980s --
of economic growth across that region
towards smaller families.
at the individual family level --
about what's best for their children.
and that decision,
regional and national trends.
are given the opportunity
a virtuous cycle of development
build a better future.
have the opportunity
to the full variety of methods.
that women want.
both rich and poor governments alike
in this room and globally,
of millions of families
to contraception today
their lives if they did have access.
and the members of her women's group
out amongst themselves and in public,
to bring every good thing to our children.
and everything else.
say something to the effect of,
about the population issue anymore.
naturally all over the world.
at nine or 10 billion. And that's it."
at the statistics across Africa,
though, from a different lens.
from the ground upwards.
we got ourselves in so much trouble
population numbers over time.
Yes, we need to make the right choices.
at the family level.
and letting them choose what to do
that we have seen globally --
places in South Asia and Afghanistan.
around the world
lives and empowering women and so on.
is going to increase the likelihood
that sex is absolutely sacred.
and it's sacred in the United States,
and so many places around the world.
in my country who are sexually experienced
doesn't make sex any less sacred.
to make choices about their lives.
the sacredness of the family
by saving their lives.
doing to promote this issue?
and people listening on the web --
join the conversation.
Join the conversation.
has either changed your life
of people saying, "This makes sense.
no matter where they live."
that we're going to do
a whole host of African nations,
on the global health agenda.
from the bottom up with governments
want the tool, they have it,
lots of options available
their local healthcare worker
of those nuns who taught you at school
this TED Talk at some point.
or are they cheering you on?
to see the TED Talk
and I plan to send it to them.
were incredibly progressive.
about social justice and service.
incredibly passionate about this issue
in the developing world.
has become very close to heart
and they are so often voiceless.
they should have access.
what I've learned from them
that I've already done at the foundation.
today an amazing group of speakers
I have so many follow-up questions.
of this work is a journey.
about the journey through energy,
on this platform?"
on these development issues,
You learn by trying and making mistakes.
that helps lead to the answer
that can help you answer it.
for the panelists from today.
all of us on this journey with you.
MG: Great. Thanks, Chris.
About the speaker:Melinda Gates - Philanthropist
Melinda French Gates is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she puts into practice the idea that every life has equal value.
Why you should listen
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. As co-chair, Melinda French Gates helps shape and approve strategies, review results, advocate for foundation issues and set the overall direction. In developing countries, the foundation focuses on improving people's health with vaccines and other life-saving tools and giving them a chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to dramatically improve education so that all young people have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill Gates, Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.
In recent years, Melinda French Gates has become a vocal advocate for access to contraception, advancing the idea that empowering women to decide whether and when to have children can have transformational effects on societies. In 2012, Gates spearheaded the London Summit on Family Planning, with the goal of delivering contraceptives to 120 million women in developing countries by 2020. When asked why she got involved in this issue, Gates said, "We knew that 210 million women were saying they wanted access to the contraceptives we have here in the United States and we weren't providing them because of political controversy in our country. To me, that was just a crime. I kept looking around trying to find the person to get this back on the global stage. I realized I just had to do it."
Melinda Gates | Speaker | TED.com