Melinda French Gates Announces $1 Billion Grant For Women’s Causes—Including US Abortion Rights

Published 1 month ago
By Forbes | Siladitya Ray
Clinton Global Initiative September 2022 Meeting – Day 1
Melinda French Gates speaks at the Clinton Global Initiative September 2022 Meeting at New York Hilton Midtown on September 19, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for Clinton Global Initiative)

TOPLINE

Melinda French Gates will donate $1 billion to tackle women’s issues across the globe, including abortion rights in the U.S., the billionaire philanthropist announced in a New York Times op-ed on Tuesday, outlining her first undertaking once she exits the Gates Foundation next month.

KEY FACTS

French Gates called the move a “new chapter” in her philanthropy work and said the billion-dollar grant will be made over the next two years “for people and organizations working on behalf of women and families around the world.”

Expressing concern about the upsurge in political and other forms of violence against women across the world, French Gates highlighted the fallout of the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, which she said “erased 20 years of progress for women and girls.”

Advertisement

In the U.S., French Gates pointed to the country’s maternal mortality rates, especially among Black and Native American mothers, as well as the lack of a “national paid family leave” and the sweeping abortion bans in 14 states.

French Gates said she has “long focused on improving contraceptive access overseas,” but after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling, she said she now feels “compelled to support reproductive rights here at home.”

Through her organization, Pivotal, French Gates said she has started directing new grants to groups like the National Women’s Law Center, the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the Center for Reproductive Rights.

CRUCIAL QUOTE

“For too long, a lack of money has forced organizations fighting for women’s rights into a defensive posture while the enemies of progress play offense. I want to help even the match,” French Gates wrote.

Advertisement

NEWS PEG

statement on Pivotal’s website said French Gates’ new billion-dollar commitment will include $690 million worth of grants from the Pivotal Philanthropies Foundation. This includes $200 million for organizations in the U.S. fighting for women’s rights “including reproductive freedom.” A “diverse group of 12 global leaders” will each receive a $20 million fund to give to charitable organizations working on women’s health, both in the U.S. and around the world. The remaining $250 million will be awarded via an open call to organizations working to “improve women’s mental and physical health worldwide.”

KEY BACKGROUND

French Gates’ latest undertaking comes just weeks after she announced her plans to leave the Gates Foundation on June 7, after serving as the organization’s co-chair for more than two decades. Under the terms of her agreement with her ex-husband Bill Gates, she received “an additional $12.5 billion” to use in her “work on behalf of women and families,” through Pivotal. Her exit from the foundation comes three years after she and Bill Gates ended their 27-year-old marriage amid reports of the billionaire’s Microsoft co-founder’s infidelity and ties to disgraced financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

FORBES VALUATION

According to our estimates, French Gates’ net worth is $11.1 billion as of Tuesday morning, making her the 189th richest person in the world.

FURTHER READING

Melinda French Gates: Why I’m Donating $1 Billion for Women’s Rights (New York Times)

Advertisement