Melinda French Gates donates $1bn for women’s issues

The philanthropist Melinda French Gates, who was once wed to Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, announced on Tuesday that she would be donating $1 billion to individuals and groups that support women’s problems.

The news is made at a time when many on the political left in the US believe that women’s rights, particularly those related to reproduction, are regressing as hardline Republicans work to outlaw abortion nationwide.

“In nearly 20 years as an advocate for women and girls, I have learned that there will always be people who say it’s not the right time to talk about gender equality,” French Gates wrote in a guest opinion piece in The New York Times.

“It’s frustrating and shortsighted. Decades of research on economics, well-being and governance make it clear that investing in women and girls benefits everyone.”

The decision was made a few weeks after French Gates declared she was splitting from the nonprofit organization she co-founded with her ex-husband, saying at the time that doing so would leave her with $12.5 billion to spend on her charitable work supporting women and families.

She focused on that goal on Tuesday and outlined the intended use of the first funding tranche.

“As part of the $1 billion in new funding I’m committing to these efforts, I have begun directing new grants through my organization, Pivotal, to groups working in the United States to protect the rights of women and advance their power and influence,” she wrote.

“These include the National Women’s Law Center, the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the Center for Reproductive Rights.”

French Gates stated that she felt compelled to redirect a portion of her funding toward reproductive rights for women in the United States, not simply overseas, following the US Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to eliminate the long-standing national right to an abortion.

The statement being made during a US election year where abortion is anticipated to be crucial, and Democrats are trying to take advantage of voters’ resentment of Republican attempts to limit access to the procedure.

Additionally, French Gates announced that she had chosen twelve recipients for a $20 million gift, which they were free to allocate however they saw suitable.

Former prime minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern and American athlete and maternal health advocate Allyson Felix were among the recipients.

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