Melinda French Gates to give away $1 billion towards women’s health and reproductive rights  


Shafi Musaddique


Melinda French Gates will donate a hefty $1 billion over the next two years. 

Writing in an op-ed for the New York Times, the philanthropist said she felt ‘compelled’ to put her financial muscle behind reproductive and women’s health after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade in 2022 – a landmark moment that repealed basic rights for women to have abortion access. 

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

French Gates said the US has ‘unconscionable’ rates of maternal mortality, particular among Black and Native American women. 

‘Despite the pressing need, only about 2 percent of charitable giving in the United States goes to organisations focused on women and girls, and only about half a percentage point goes to organisations focused on women of colour specifically,’ she wrote. 

The philanthropist said she has begun distributing $200 million in grants through her organisation, Pivotal Ventures, to US based organisations, including the National Women’s Law Center, the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the Center for Reproductive Rights. 

French Gates has also selected a number of high profile women’s health advocates, including former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Afghan women’s education advocate Shabana Basij-Rasikh, to receive a $20 million grant that they can distribute as they wish. 

Her support for an openly left leaning, progressive mark of philanthropy represents a swift pivot away from the non-politically aligned Bill and & Melinda Gates Foundation which she co-chaired for over two decades. 

Just last week, the philanthropist resigned as co-chair of the foundation, which she started with her former husband Bill Gates.  

The duo separated in 2021 but maintained cordial relations, particularly for philanthropy. Both have exerted a huge influence on global health. 

As part of her divorce agreement finalised in 2021, French Gates received $12.5 billion from Bill Gates to support her philanthropic efforts upon stepping down from the foundation. 

French Gates alluded to her future support for women’s health in her resignation statement, writing; ‘This is a critical moment for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world — and those fighting to protect and advance equality are in urgent need of support’.  

She joins Mackenzie Scott as a female philanthropist dispersing huge sums of wealth towards a distinct shade of progressive philanthropy, moving away from the non-politically aligned projects of their ex-tech tycoon husbands. 

Shafi Musaddique is the news editor at Alliance Magazine 

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