Melinda French Gates donates US$1b for women’s issues

Melinda French Gates donates US$1b for women’s issues
Melinda French Gates donates US$1b for women’s issues

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Philanthropist Melinda French Gates, who was previously married to Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, said Tuesday she was giving US$1 billion to people and organisations working to promote women’s issues. — AFP pic

LOS ANGELES, May 29 — Philanthropist Melinda French Gates, who was previously married to Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, said yesterday she was giving US$1 billion (RM4.7 billion) to people and organisations working to promote women’s issues.

The announcement comes as many on the political left in the United States see a backsliding of women’s rights, including on reproductive issues, as Republican hardliners push abortion bans across the country.

“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.

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“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 move comes weeks after French Gates announced she was leaving the non-profit foundation she established with her ex-husband in an agreement she said at the time would leave her with US$12.5 billion for use on her philanthropic efforts on behalf of women and families.

On Tuesday, she homed in on that target, setting out where the first tranche of money would be going.

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“As part of the US$1 billion in new funding I’m committing to these efforts, I have begun directing new grants through my organisation, 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 said that since the US Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to overturn the long-standing national right to abortion, she felt the need to refocus some of her spending on reproductive rights for women in the United States, not just abroad.

The announcement comes in a US election year in which abortion is expected to play a pivotal role, as Democrats seek to exploit voter dissatisfaction with Republican efforts to restrict access to the procedure.

French Gates said she had also selected a dozen people to receive a US$20 million grant that they could distribute as they see fit.

Recipients included former New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern, and US athlete and maternal-health advocate Allyson Felix. — AFP

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