Gates' Education in Africa

Melinda Gates' charity work has made her rethink some of her Catholic beliefs, said Alice Thomson in The Times (U.K.). The philanthropist has traveled the world with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, trying to eradicate polio, tuberculosis, malaria, and other diseases. But in doing so, she discovered that for many women in Africa and the developing world, the greatest fear is yet another pregnancy. "I would go to these dusty villages or slums. When I stayed long enough, and the men had faded away, the women would finally ask me questions, and they would always bring up contraceptives."

Distributing condoms, she found, wasn't a solution, because men objected to them. "Women would tell me, 'I can't negotiate a condom in my marriage. It would look like either I had AIDS or my partner had it.' They needed more covert methods and were prepared to walk 100 miles for them."

The foundation is now developing injectable contraceptives — and Melinda, who attended a convent school, refuses to feel guilty. "Without contraceptives, I wouldn't have been able to do what I do. I went to graduate school, I had a nine-year career at Microsoft; I could plan my life.... In the U.S., 96 percent of married Catholic women use contraceptives. It shouldn't just be a rich Catholic privilege."

- From The Week Magazine

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