Contraceptives unlock one of the most dormant but potentially powerful assets in development: women as decision-makers. When women have the power to make choices about their families, they tend to decide precisely what demographers, economists and development experts recommend. They invest in the long-term human capital of their families. They don't do it because they're worried about GDP; they do it because they're worried about their children's futures. But the two fit together beautifully.
Today I tell people that I want to help put women at the center of global health and development work — and that contraceptives are one of the best ways to do that. Because when women everywhere have the power to achieve their goals, they will be doing the majority of the work of development by themselves.
Gates, a 2012 Foreign Policy Global Thinker, is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.