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Melinda Gates hopes to see Vatican change its views on contraception

(Reuters/Denis Balibouse)Melinda Gates, Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, listens to a question during a news conference before her address to the 67th World Health Assembly at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva May 20, 2014.

Melinda Gates, wife of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, is hoping that the Vatican would change its teaching on artificial contraception.

In a recent interview with the BBC, Gates noted that her charity, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, works closely with the Catholic Church and has had "many discussions with them, because we have a shared mission around social justice and anti-poverty."

Gates, who was raised as a Catholic, said that she had "agreed to disagree" with the Church on contraception, claiming that it is "one of the greatest anti-poverty innovations the world has ever known."

"I think what this Pope sees is that if we are going to lift people out of poverty, you have to do the right thing for women, and so we have agreed at this point to disagree," she said.

She noted that Pope Francis has not changed the Church's stance on the issue "yet," but she said that she was "optimistic" that the Church will change its teaching "over time."

During an international summit in London on Tuesday, Gates called for family planning to be made a global priority.

She announced that the foundation would provide $375 million for family planning over the next four years.

Gates contended that access to birth control boosts the economy by freeing up women to work, and leads to smaller families with parents able to devote more resources toward their children's health and education.

"Contraceptives empower women. And we know what empowered women do ... they transform societies," she stated.

She added that contraception enabled her to finish her education, pursue a career in technology and plan when she had her children.

The summit came as U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he will end funding for the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), which deals with family planning, sexual and reproductive health. The Trump administration had also reinstated a policy that blocks U.S. funding to overseas organizations that perform or provide information about abortion.

"I'm deeply troubled, as I'm sure you are, by the Trump administration's proposed budget cuts," she said.

"If empowering women is more than just rhetoric for the president, he will prove it by funding family planning," she added.

The summit, held on World Population Day, was focused on increasing access to contraceptives for adolescents, boosting family planning services in humanitarian crises and improving the supply of available contraceptives. At least $2.5 billion has been pledged for family programs at the summit, according to Reuters.

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