We Can Save Lives, But Will We?

Melinda French Gates was honored as an Ashoka ChangemakeHER, Changemakers's inaugural celebration of the world's most influentual and inspiring women. Find her fellow honorees' voices here.

by Melinda French Gates, co-chair and trustee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


Melinda visits a math classroom at Green Dot's Animo Pat Brown Charter High School.

On a recent trip to Kenya, I visited a family planning clinic in Korogocho, an urban slum in Nairobi.  For women in poor communities, where getting food or basic health care is a struggle, family planning becomes even more urgent. The line at the clinic was out the door, with about 50 women waiting for their family planning supplies.

I met one mother who had six babies before she learned anything about family planning. She wants a better life for her children. “My daughters will be more informed about family planning than I was. I will teach them everything.”

But family planning is just one of many low-cost and high-impact solutions that can dramatically improve the lives of women and children. Even simply promoting breastfeeding and teaching mothers to hold their babies against their skin can make huge differences in a baby’s health. 
 
Improving the health of women and children takes global commitment. It must be a national priority. It is time to make women’s health a financial and policy priority worldwide because women matter to the health and prosperity of their families, communities and nations.
 
On the week of International Women’s Day, let’s decide to give women the tools they need to survive and thrive.

More to Explore: