Every year in the waning days of springtime the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has a ceremony to bestow its Population Award on a person and an organization that has met its criteria for population control. The afternoon of June 3rd, as storm clouds gathered over New York, a very tall, elderly gentleman made his way with other dignitaries to the podium of a vast conference room. He was William H. Gates Sr, father of the more famous Bill, accepting the 2010 United Nations Population Award on behalf of his travelling son (who was in Spain) and travelling daughter-in-law Melinda (who was in Mexico).
The thought crossed my mind that perhaps the UNFPA award was to offset the scathing article written earlier this year by the hand of this author [“A Geek with Cheek” MercatorNet, 9 February 2010] but quickly moved on.
Each year the multibillionaire uses funds from his multibillion dollar foundation, the world’s largest private foundation, operating in over 100 countries, to provide a number of charities and nonprofits with the wherewithal for the tools of the population control trade under the wide umbrella of “family planning”. The UNFPA has undoubtedly been the beneficiary of the Gates largesse for its global scale works.
The citation read at the ceremony by UNFPA executive director Thoraya Obaid stated in part that the Gates Foundation was “a leader in the fields of global health and global development, particularly in promoting excellence in population assistance, including through the design of innovative, integrated solutions in the areas of reproductive health, family planning, and maternal and neonatal health….”
No doubt with so much money and a great need to alleviate much misery Gates monies go to many worthy charities. But “promoting excellence in population assistance” does not exactly inspire confidence in light of activities covered under “family planning.”
Mr. Gates Senior read his “acceptance statement” – which to trained ears that have been present at more than one of these awards – sounded as though it could have been written for him by the UNFPA itself. Here is a key quote: “The United Nations helped pioneer the field of family planning. You are recognizing Bill and Melinda today because they followed your lead.”
After expressing regrets for the Bill and Melinda absence, he went on to convey that “…this honor is especially meaningful, because family planning first sparked their interest in global health 15 years ago. The occasion of this ceremony has given them the opportunity to reflect on why they started the Gates Foundation in the first place, and how much progress they have seen since then.”
The rest of his statement contained all the phrases, facts and figures that are routinely bandied about at any and all panels, conferences and presentations by the UNFPA on the “wide ranging benefits of family planning” and that there are “215 million women” that the UNFPA has determined “want to use contraceptives but don’t have that option” – if only their UNFPA-determined desire were to be fulfilled, why this “would prevent millions of abortions that occur because women were not able to access contraception.”
In his closing remarks Mr Gates pledged “the Gates Foundation support in the effort to meet the unmet need for family planning….” and that Bill and Melinda would “continue to be your partner in this essential work.”
It is worth recalling that William H. Gates Sr. was once head of Planned Parenthood in the US and that International Planned Parenthood Federation won the population award in the institutional category in 1985. He must have felt very much at home.
The population award carries with it a medal, a citation and a monetary award. Given that the last is of no consequence to anyone in the Gates family, Mr. Gates said the foundation would “match the prize money for this award and make a grant for the total amount to the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development – the institutional category recipient for the 2010 population award.
This organization, founded in 1981, advances the agenda set out at the UN’s Cairo population conference by “promoting parliamentary action on population and development issues” according to the citation read at the ceremony. This group has become a “worldwide model” that spawned similar associations in other regions of the world, particularly in Europe and Africa.
One wonders if there was any whiff of influence on the recent approval of the health care legislation in the United States which seems to contain some population control elements.
True to their word, a few days after the UN award the Gates foundation pledged a considerable sum to support the UN led initiative called “The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health” which is “hosted and administered by the World Health Organization” and includes approximately 300 NGOs such as Planned Parenthood and organizations like the UN Population Fund.
The announcement was made by Melinda Gates at a “Women Deliver” conference in Washington, DC on June 7th, where the “partnership” organizations had gathered to support the maternal/child cause – as they see it. The foundation is to invest $1.5 billion from 2010 through 2014 “to support innovative projects addressing family planning; health care for pregnant women, newborns, and children; and nutrition.”
While maternal and child welfare are noble and worthy goals, it is worth noting that “family planning” – with all of its life prevention implications – was listed first as the Gates Foundation continues to hold fast to its original inspiration: population control.
At UN insistence, the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health initiative is being added to the agenda of the G8/G20 summit of world economic powers, to be held June 26-27 in Canada, with the purpose of generating even more money.
Matching funds anyone?
Vincenzina Santoro is an international economist. She represents the American Family Association of New York at the United Nations.