Melinda Gates: Women and Public Health

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Why you should care

Because rural women may hold an unexpected key.

For ages upon ages, women throughout the world have had to cede their decisions — about how many children to have, about where the household income goes — to their husbands. And while that’s changed over the past century in developing countries, hundreds of millions of women in poor, rural areas throughout the world are still very much under their husbands’ thumbs.

What’s amazing is that this is starting to change, according to Melinda Gates, who sat down with OZY’s Carlos Watson in 2015. With smartphones spreading throughout the developing world, rural women are increasingly able to inform themselves about available medicines and contraceptives. New contraception technology lets women determine how many kids to have, and how far apart to have them. And they can do all this with or without their husband’s consent.

As these women grow in confidence, they are banding together to tackle other important issues and winning over their skeptical husbands in the process. “They’re taking the group where they want to go,” said Gates. “That’s when you see incredible change.”

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