BusinessBusiness Leaders

Melinda French Gates Plans To Donate $1Bn to Women’s Rights

Billionaire philanthropist Melinda French Gates has announced a commitment of $1 billion (£782.4m) over the next two years to support women’s causes and gender equity globally.

A portion of this, about $200 million (£157m), will be directed to organizations in the US that advocate for gender and reproductive rights.

In a guest essay for The New York Times, Ms. French Gates explained that her decision to support US reproductive rights was driven by the 2022 Supreme Court ruling that overturned the constitutional right to an abortion.

This announcement comes on the heels of her recent decision to step back from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the philanthropic giant she co-founded with her former husband, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

The funds will be distributed through her organization, Pivotal Ventures, until 2026.

Ms. French Gates intends to allocate $20 million (£16m) to a “diverse group of 12 global leaders” for distribution to organizations of their choice before the end of 2026.

Additionally, Pivotal Ventures plans to allocate another $250 million (£196m) in the autumn to global organizations focusing on women’s mental and physical health.

The initial grant recipients in the US were chosen to help “protect the rights of women and advance their power and influence,” Ms. French Gates stated.

“When we allow this cause to go so chronically underfunded, we all pay the cost,” she wrote in The New York Times. “As shocking as it is to contemplate, my 1-year-old granddaughter may grow up with fewer rights than I had.”

One recipient of these funds is the Center for Reproductive Rights, which advocates for abortion rights and is currently involved in lawsuits challenging abortion restrictions and other reproductive health measures in several states.

According to Joung-ah Ghedini-Williams, the Center’s chief communications and marketing officer, this funding is crucial given the current level of public debate and attention on reproductive rights and abortion.

“The attention and the public debate about reproductive rights and abortion are greater than ever,” Ms. Ghedini-Williams said. “That’s not necessarily being reflected in donations, which is why this is so wonderful right now when we need to continue fueling this fight.”

Other organizations receiving grants include MomsRising, which supports women’s economic security; the National Women’s Law Center, which uses law to enhance gender equity; and The 19th, a nonprofit media outlet dedicated to gender and policy news.

The National Domestic Workers Alliance, advocating for millions of nannies, housecleaners, home-care workers, and others in the US, also received a grant.

The organization’s president, Ai-jen Poo, said that while the flexible terms and multi-year security provided by the grant are significant for the group, the message it conveys is even more crucial.

“Boldly resourcing women forces the question of, ‘why haven’t we done this before?’” she said. “It’s long overdue when women are more than half the workforce, half the electorate, and doing 70% of the care work in our communities and our families.”