Melinda French Gates Pledges $1 Billion for Gender Equity and Reproductive Rights Advocacy


Melinda French Gates, the formidable philanthropic force and advocate for gender equity, has undertaken a milestone commitment of investing $1 billion over the next two years. Beneficiaries of this munificence will include individuals and organizations emphatically propelling the cause of women and families on a global stage. This ambitious bid also encompasses the protection of reproductive rights within the United States.

This is not French Gates’ first stride across the billion-dollar threshold. In 2019, she emboldened women’s power and influence with a pledged expansion spanning ten-years. Having recently placed her departure from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation into motion, French Gates’ resolve to focus on women and families remains resolute. Her departure from the foundation was underlined by an infusion of $12 billion from Bill Gates, a contribution slated to catalyze her future philanthropic endeavors.

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French Gates, an indomitable advocate for gender equity in the United States, admitted to chronic frustrations with those who argue that the discourse on gender equality is untimely. Through advocating her position via an essay for The New York Times, she stipulated, “Decades of research on economics, well-being, and governance make it clear that investing in women and girls benefits everyone.”

She has already actively embarked on disbursing $200 million in new grants through her organization, Pivotal Ventures. This assistance targets organizations tirelessly working within the U.S. to shield and uplift women’s rights and drive their power and influence. The funding is provisioned for general operating support and not designated for specific projects. Key beneficiaries will include the National Women’s Law Center, the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Admirably, French Gates has also committed to providing twelve individuals with $20 million each, before the end of 2026. These funds elaborate on her goal of empowering others to further support the organizations of their choice. The sizeable grants will be managed by the National Philanthropic Trust, one of the largest public charities offering donor-advised funds.

In commending French Gates’ commitment, Teresa Younger, the current president and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women, extolled her approach and suggested if philanthropy was orchestrated in this way, more impactful results would be achieved. “If philanthropy took lessons from the way that women are moving money, we would see more money in the field having greater impact,” she noted.

The MomsRising Education Fund is another recipient of French Gates’ generosity, with a grant that extends through 2026. The fund’s executive director and CEO, Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, warmly acknowledged the contribution saying, “We’re deeply honored and enormously grateful that Melinda French Gates is stepping up for women and families in a time when the rights of our daughters may be significantly less than of ourselves or our own mothers.”

Engaging her organization, Pivotal Ventures, French Gates has dispensed $875 million of the $1 billion pledged in 2019 to an innovative cocktail of venture and philanthropic funding. The organization specifically concentrates on closing wage gaps, adequately compensating women’s care work, and spurring women to seek political office. On the international stage, the Gates Foundation has veritably enhanced women’s health through years of funded research and interventions aimed at addressing maternal mortality.

French Gates reflected on the United States’ disturbingly high maternal mortality rates in her essay, underscoring that Black and Native American mothers bear the brunt of the risk. She lamented, “Women in 14 states have lost the right to terminate a pregnancy under almost any circumstances. We remain the only advanced economy without any form of national paid family leave. And the number of teenage girls experiencing suicidal thoughts and persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness is at a decade high.”

Despite her impending departure from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, an organization French Gates co-founded almost twenty-five years ago, her passionate advocacy for women and families remains unwavering.

The soon-to-be-renamed Gates Foundation, hailed as one of the largest philanthropic organizations in the world, enjoys an endowment of $75.2 billion, bolstered by hefty contributions from Gates and billionaire investor Warren Buffet. Though the foundation navigates a myriad of concerns, its most bountiful resources are directed at global health. Primarily focused on international issues, the contributions persistently champion transformative global change.