Advocates of family planning made fiscal strides at the London Summit on Family Planning on Wednesday.
At the event, co-hosted by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the British government, a total of $4.6 billion was pledged toward family planning. According to the Catholic Reporter, $2.6 billion of the pledged money came from industrialized nations and $2 billion from developing countries.
Event leaders said this sum could potentially prevent the deaths of 200,000 women during pregnancy and childbirth, 110 million unwanted pregnancies, and 50 million abortions all over the world, according to Philanthropy News Digest.
At the summit, the Gates announced that they were increasing their commitment to the cause by $560 million over the next eight years -- resulting in a total of $1.12 billion, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg also donated big -- giving $50 million.
His donation marks his second substantial contribution to the cause -- his first being in February, when he announced on Twitter that he would match up to $250,000 in donations to Planned Parenthood.
Melinda Gates, who is a devoted advocate of family planning programs, writes in her HuffPost blog that she cannot conceive of a more important cause.
She explains that programs funded by this donation would allow women to finish school and gain employment, ultimately leading to a nation's self sufficiency. Additionally, Gates explains in her blog that family planning costs approximately one-sixth of what is spent on housing, health care, and public services -- costs that result from the absence of family planning resources.
"[Family planning] means the difference between being empowered and feeling powerless. It means the difference between celebrating a daughter's graduation and watching her drop out of school. It even means the difference between life and death," she writes.
Gates, who is Catholic, says she understands the controversial nature of this topic. Yet, she told the Guardian that she has seen an overwhelmingly positive reaction from Catholics, including nuns, in the last few weeks.
"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," she told the newspaper.