As we get closer to the London Summit on Family Planning, people often ask me, "Why is family planning so important to you?" The simple answer is that it can mean everything to so many of the women and families I meet. It 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.
Providing family planning information and services to millions of women and girls in the poorest countries in the world gives them the opportunity to determine their own futures, and the best future for their children.
As a woman and a mother, I can't imagine anything more important.
The women and girls I speak with, whether in India or Kenya, tell me they want to be able to plan for their families. They tell me they want what's best for themselves and their children. They want the right to participate freely and equally in society.
I'd love for you to watch this video and let me know what you think. And the next time someone asks you, "What does family planning mean?" hopefully you'll have no problem answering, "It can make all the difference for women and girls everywhere."
Do you believe every girl and woman should have the opportunity to determine her own future? Spread the word that contraception is not controversial. Take the pledge, share your own story, and ask your online communities to do the same!
This post was originally published on Impatient Optimists, the blog of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.