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Bill and Melinda Gates
Bill and Melinda Gates visiting women in Jamsaut village in Bihar, India. (Gates Foundation Photo)

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced Tuesday that it has committed $375 million in funding over the next three years to expand access to contraceptives for some of the world’s poorest communities.

It’s part of the foundation’s ongoing work with Family Planning 2020, an international collaboration that’s aiming to expand contraceptive access to 120 million women across the world by the year 2020. The Gates Foundation has previously donated over $1 billion to the collaboration.

The new donation comes as the Trump administration is proposing cuts that would impact family planning services across the globe.

In a blog post announcing the new funds, Melinda Gates wrote that family planning services weren’t initially a focus for her or the Foundation. But that changed as she began looking into how to help communities around the world stay healthy.

“Everywhere I went, the conversation turned to contraceptives. I met women who were getting pregnant too young, too old, and too often for their bodies to handle,” she wrote. “When I started studying the data, I learned that contraceptives are an essential part of the healthier, more prosperous world we’re all working toward.”

Gates has since become a vocal advocate for expanding access to contraceptives. She has also advocated for more research and data on the global use of contraceptives, a field that is plagued by a lack of data.

In her post, Gates also spoke out against the Trump administration’s proposed funding cuts to family planning programs inside the U.S. and abroad.

The president has proposed deep cuts to international aid and scientific research in his budget, both of which could impact family planning. He has also reinstated a ban on U.S. aid to any organization that offers or even discusses abortion procedures, cutting funds to organizations that offer contraception and other medical services.

“This is a difficult political climate for family planning. I’m deeply concerned about the White House’s proposed budget cuts to global family planning efforts. If empowering women is more than just rhetoric for the president, he will prove it by protecting this funding,” she said.

Gates wrote that this lack of financial support from the U.S. was the reason the Foundation decided to donate the additional $375 million.

“This additional funding won’t begin to fill the gap that proposed U.S. budget cuts could create. But it will help build a bridge to the women and girls we have yet to reach,” she said.

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