David Cameron has said that developing family planning strategies is “fundamental” to tackling global poverty.
The Prime Minister made his comments as the Government pledged to donate more than £1bn to help family planning services in the developing world.
In an attempt to help 24 million girls and women in the world’s poorest countries, British aid will be doubled for eight years.
Cash donated to family planning services will increase from £90m each year to £180m – more than £1.4bn in total.
Speaking to health leaders from around the world at the London Family Planning Summit, Mr Cameron said: “Women should be able to decide freely and for themselves whether, when and how many children they have.
“It is absolutely fundamental to any hope to tackling poverty in our world.
“Why? Because a country cannot develop properly when its young women are dying from unintended pregnancy and when its children are dying in infancy.
“In a way it is so simple. Healthy empowered women mean healthy strong families mean healthy strong children mean healthy strong countries. It is as simple and straightforward as that.”
The summit, which is hosted by the Government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, also aims to encourage poor countries to develop their policies to support the rights of women.
Health ministers, charities, donors and private sector companies working in the family planning business will discuss increasing the global availability of contraceptives and how to empower women so they have more choices about sex.