The Right to Choose
“Birth control has almost completely and totally disappeared from the global health agenda, and the victims of this paralysis are the people of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.”
If you only know the name Gates from Microsoft, I would like to introduce you to Melinda, the wife of Bill Gates and co-founder of the Gates Foundation. I'm not sure if it's because I live in Seattle and hear so much about her through the media, but over the years I have followed her humanitarian efforts and watched her grow into a "Women in Motion".
In April she was a speaker on No Controversy:TEDXChange. If this name doesn't ring a bell, make sure and take a look at TED.com. You'll be hooked in no time and watching amazing people talk about their passions. The talk lasts about 25 minutes, so you might want to save it for one of those nights when you can't get to sleep.
Here are a few quotes from Melinda that I think will make you want to hear what she has to say.
"Contraception. The topic has become controversial in recent years. But should it be? Melinda Gates believes that many of the world's social change issues depend on ensuring that women are able to control their rate of having kids. In this significant talk, she makes the case for the world to re-examine an issue she intends to lend her voice to for the next decade".
“If we're going to make progress on this issue [of contraception], we have to be really clear about what our agenda is. We're not talking about abortion. We're not talking about population control. What I'm talking about is giving women the power to save their lives, to save their children's lives and to give their families the best possible future.”
Melinda Gates and Hillary Clinton
“The fact that 98 percent of women in [the U.S.] who are sexually experienced say they use birth control doesn't make sex any less sacred. It just means that they're getting to make choices about their lives.”
“If [women in Nairobi] can talk about [contraception] openly, and have this discussion out amongst themselves in public, we can too. And we need to start now.”
The reason that I wanted to pass this on to you is that over the last decade we can't seem to talk about women, sex and pregnancy without getting in arguments about abortion. What she has done is script this lecture around the importance of being able to make the most important choice before there has to be any talk about abortion. She was raised in Catholic schools by nuns who taught her to believe and fight for social justice. She believes the right to choose to have children is every woman's right and we need to get it back on the world health agenda.
Have a great week and we'll talk soon.