Melinda French Gates says she will donate $1 billion to support women and families | Economy

A philanthropist says it is “frustrating” that some believe it is not the right time to discuss gender equality.

Melinda French Gates has announced that she will donate $1 billion over the next two years to people and organizations working on behalf of women and families, including reproductive rights.

In an op-ed published in the New York Times on Tuesday, French Gates said she felt “compelled” to support abortion rights in the United States following the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. .

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

French Gates said the United States continues to have “inordinate” rates of maternal mortality, particularly among black and Native American women, while the number of teenagers experiencing suicidal thoughts and persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness is at an all-time high. decade.

“Despite the pressing need, only about 2 percent of charitable giving in the United States goes to organizations focused on women and girls, and only about half a percentage point goes to organizations focused specifically on women of color.” , wrote.

French Gates also expressed dismay at those who say “now is not the right time” to talk about gender equality.

“It’s frustrating and shortsighted. “Decades of research on economics, well-being and governance make clear that investing in women and girls benefits everyone,” she wrote.

“We know that economies with the full participation of women have more room to grow. That women’s political participation is associated with a decrease in corruption.”

French Gates said she has begun distributing $200 million in grants through her organization, Pivotal Ventures, to U.S.-based organizations, including the National Women’s Law Center, the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the Center for Reproductive Rights.

French Gates said it has also selected a dozen people, including former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Afghan women’s education advocate Shabana Basij-Rasikh, to receive a $20 million grant. which they can distribute as they wish.

French Gates made the announcement two weeks after she said she was leaving the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the philanthropic organization she co-founded with her ex-husband, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, in 2000.

As part of their divorce settlement finalized in 2021, French Gates received $12.5 billion from Bill Gates to support his philanthropic efforts upon leaving the foundation.

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