World leaders will today discuss how they can tackle one of the biggest killers of teenage girls worldwide: pregnancy.

According to the Department for International Development (Dfid), a woman dies from pregnancy-related complications ‘every two minutes’.

At the London Family Planning Summit, hosted by the UK Government and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, world leaders will discuss how better access to contraception could save millions of lives.

“It’s not just about saving lives,” said international development minister Stephen O'Brien to Huffpost Lifestyle.

"Although clearly that’s fundamental, it's also about gender and the rights of women to make choices."

london family planning summit

Mothers in Malawi who want access to contraceptives

“And that starts with making sure they have the chance to have healthy lives, including during the time they are pregnant. Giving birth can be one of the most dangerous things a woman can do in poorer communities.”

Summit delegates from 20 to 25 countries, including the US, India, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania, are hoping to get 120 million women better access to contraceptives, information and services by 2020.

Scroll down to meet the women who will benefit (PICTURES/VIDEO)

Inevitably, American-based catholic groups and anti-abortion blogs have tried to undermine the summit's progress - accusing Melinda Gates of mounting a "blatant attack on Catholic sexual morality".

However, O'Brien seems surprised the campaign's targets have come under fire.

“Of course I respect anybody that feels that this has an impact on their religious and faithful belief, but I see it from the other end," he says.

“This is really about making one of the highest positive impacts we can have on a woman's health."

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.

Meet the mums from Blantyre, Malawi in Africa who need access to contraceptives

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  • Meet mother-of-two Mwanasha

    Meet Mwanasha, she's 21 years old and already a mum-of-two. She's a farmer living in a remote area in southern Malawi who is hoping to get family planning services.

  • Changing Women's Lives

    Mwanasha, along with nearly 200 women, gather under the shade of a Baobab tree. They've come for contraceptives, which for many of them can save their lives and transform their families' futures. In Malawi, one in 36 women die in childbirth compared to one in 4,600 in the UK.

  • Future families

    Nurse Chipiliro Musowa talks to the women about the benefits of contraceptives. She works for a UK aid supported NGO that brings family planning services to remote areas to help give some of the world's poorest women the power to decide if and when to have a child.

  • What women want

    Mwanasha (far left) queues with women in the local area to be registered for free family planning services. More than 200 million women and girls in developing countries who want to delay or avoid becoming pregnant do not have access to modern methods of contraception.

  • A matter of life and death

    Women will travel for hours on foot to access lifesaving contraceptives, some without the knowledge of their husbands. As Mwanasha explains, "Sometimes husbands stop their wives accessing family planning methods, and when we do it on our own, husbands quarrel with us and beat us up. That's why some women do not access family planning methods."

  • Hope for the future

    The Banja La Mtsogolo programme works with both men and women in local communities to explain the benefits of family planning. Nurse Chipiliro has seen how families become healthier, wealthier and better educated. "If women are getting family planning methods there are many benefits. They have more time to take care of their family and do business in their community," says Chipiliro.

  • The power to decide

    Mwanasha has a one-to-one consultation with Nurse Chipiliro to discuss the full range of contraceptives available - from short to long term methods - so she can choose the best option for her.

  • Females first

    Contraceptives have wide reaching benefits. Nurse Chipiliro explains how female condoms protect women against HIV. In Malawi, over 10% of people have HIV. For women unable to persuade their husband or partner to wear a male condom, the female condom is essential.

  • Transformational technology

    Mwanasha decides to have an implant because she wants to delay her next pregnancy and space her children. She explains, "The children will grow up strong and healthy because they will have been spaced, rather than having them close together. It also means as parents we will have enough time to do other work instead of just looking after the children."

  • Choices for women

    Long-lasting contraceptive implants are very popular in remote, rural areas. Women often struggle to access health services and implants help women to safely space their children. If women can space births by three years, deaths of children under five would decrease by 25%.

  • Keeping mums healthy

    Mums are given "health passports" which monitor their medical history and record what family planning methods they use.

  • Choices for women

    Long-lasting contraceptive implants are very popular in remote, rural areas. Women often struggle to access health services and implants help women to safely space their children. If women can space births by three years, deaths of children under five would decrease by 25%.

It is estimated that 220 million women around the world do not have access to contraceptives or information on them.

In some countries women need written consent from their husbands before they can talk to a doctor about contraception while in some places family planning services are not offered to adolescents or unmarried women.

However, in the development minister's experience, the problem is not one of culture, but of access.

“I regularly travel to countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, but I haven’t really encountered local community concern.

“Once a clinic is established - where services can include immunisation of children, advice on family planning, and access to contraceptives - far from being met with a sense of resistance, they welcome it."

The main issues are practical, he comments, as the supply of contraceptives will regularly run out.

Family planning issues also affect women in the developed world, he acknowledges. Britain has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Europe.

"The NHS should offer comprehensive access to contraceptive services to women of all ages and free supply of all methods of contraception. And if any MP finds that's not what's happening, then they must hold the NHS to account," he states.

Find out more about the campaign from Secretary Of State Andrew Mitchell