“The reason it fell off the agenda was because we made it controversial — people backed away because of fear,” she said. “But today, there are 200 million women who want to have access to contraception, and if we’re not serving them, that’s not right.”
She said that when she and her husband first set up their foundation 18 years ago, they had originally focused on family planning, but had then shifted their agenda to providing vaccines after realizing that childhood mortality was the top issue, and that women would not choose to have fewer children until they were sure their children would survive childhood.
“But once we saw that was happening, we could take family planning back on,” she said.
It was meeting women in Africa and Asia on her travels through the developing world, she said, that made her determined to push contraception back on to the agenda.
“Over and over again, women have told me that all they want is to be able to put time between one child and another child,” she said. “It’s a universal thing to want to feed your children and to educate your children, and women know that the only way they can do that is not have so many. And this campaign could give them the tools to make sure they can do that.”
The campaign would include research to look at developing better methods of contraception, she said — and these methods could, in time, benefit women in the West, as well as women in Africa and Asia.