Melinda French Gates explains why she resigned from the Gates Foundation — and what she’ll do now

Melinda French Gates explains why she resigned from the Gates Foundation — and what she’ll do now

Melinda French Gates said that after the US Supreme Court’s 2022 Dobbs decision that allowed individual states to decide on abortion rights, the philanthropist felt compelled to offer financial support to Americans for their reproductive freedom — support that she says she has provided exclusively overseas .

“While I have long focused on improving contraceptive access abroad, in the post-Dobbs era, I now feel compelled to support reproductive rights here at home,” French Gates said in an op-ed Tuesday in the New York Times. “For too long, lack of money has forced organizations that fight for women’s rights to be defensive while the enemies of progress play offensive. I want to help even the match.”

French Gates, one of the world’s richest and most prominent philanthropists, resigned from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation earlier this month, announcing June 7 will be his last day at the organization he helped create more than two decades ago. As part of her divorce settlement, she received $12.5 billion from the Gates Foundation for her work after her resignation, and she hinted she would focus her philanthropic efforts on women and girls — but she did not provide specifics.

Tuesday, he gave the first details of his new plan.

French Gates said he will donate $1 billion through 2026 to advance women’s rights around the world through his organization, Pivotal Ventures. That includes a $200 million grant to organizations fighting for women’s reproductive rights.

Among those recipients is The 19th, a nonprofit news organization that reports on gender policy. “Pinch me,” said Emily Ramshaw, the company’s co-founder and CEO, in a post on X.

“Sometimes dreams do come true,” Ramshaw said in a blog post on the company’s website. “This support will strengthen our critical politics and policy coverage in a seismic election year, allow us to make strategic investments in our audience and our future, and lay the foundation for our long-term sustainability in a turbulent time for our industry.”

Another recipient, the Women’s Policy Research Institute, said its grant will help advance its work to improve the health of women across the United States and close the gender pay gap.

“We are honored to receive this support from Melinda French Gates, a true pioneer for women’s empowerment,” said Dr. Jamila Taylor, President and CEO of IWPR, in a statement.

French Gates will also award $250 million to organizations working to help improve women’s mental and physical health.

In an innovative effort similar to that of mega-philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, French Gates also said he would give $240 million to a group of 12 advocates and influential leaders around the world ($20 million each) to allow them to give the money to their groups. believe is doing urgent and meaningful work in women’s health. Scott has rocked the charity world by quickly giving out large sums of money to organizations he loves — with no strings attached.

“I’m also experimenting with new tactics to bring a wider variety of perspectives into philanthropy,” French Gates wrote in his op-ed. “I look forward to seeing the landscape of funding opportunities through their eyes, and the results their approach opens up.”

French Gates said the group of leaders included former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, maternal health advocate Allyson Felix and Afghan women’s education activist Shabana Basij-Rasikh.

In his op-ed, French Gates said he was once told to set his own agenda before others set it – and that’s why he chose to leave the Gates Foundation.

She says people who don’t understand the charity’s efforts to empower women have let her down with their short-sightedness. He called America’s high maternal mortality rate “unjustifiable” and denounced America’s status as the only advanced economy without paid family leave at the national level.

Only 2% of donations in the United States go to organizations that focus on women and girls, French Gates said. But he said investing in women’s health would add significantly to the global economy.

“Because I’ve been given this incredible opportunity, I’m determined to do everything I can to seize it and to set an agenda that helps other women and girls set their own chances as well too,” he wrote in his op-ed.

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