Summit to pledge £1.5bn


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Indy Politics

Last summer Andrew Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, was reduced to tears as he watched the joy of Claudine, a Rwandan mother of five, when she was told she was not going to have another child.

It was this moment that inspired Mr Mitchell to set up a summit, to be held in London next month, that aims to halve the number of women in the world's poorest countries with no access to contraception.

"I saw this woman walk in, looking utterly miserable and unhappy, and she knew that if she was pregnant again it would break the structure of her family – they would be in a really bad place," he said.

"They tested her. The doctor came out and said 'You are not pregnant'. Tears poured down her face. She laughed. She danced, She cried. She was so relieved that she wasn't pregnant and they were able to talk to her about contraception she might want."

Mr Mitchell said the summit – co-hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on 11 July – would pledge to reach an extra 120 million women around the world by 2020, with £1.5bn from donors.

While the aims of the talks are laudable, the Government is stalling on legislation to enshrine the commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of GDP on foreign aid; the measure was not included in the Queen's Speech.

Mr Mitchell insisted that the Government would fulfil its commitment to spend 0.7 per cent next year, and that the relevant Bill was ready.

"I've put in the business plan May 2015 as the last date, so there's no doubt we will reach it before the election. When it will be is a matter for the [House of Commons] business managers. The key thing is we are standing by our commitments. We will bring it in the next three years."