Melinda quits Bill’s Gates Foundation, receives $12.5b under divorce deal
NEW YORK: (Web Desk) Melinda French Gates, one of the world’s wealthiest and most prominent philanthropists, has resigned from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and announced June 7 will be her last day at the non-profit organization.

 She had helped create the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation more than two decades ago. As part of her divorce agreement, she received $12.5 billion from the Gates Foundation for her work upon her resignation, and she hinted she would focus her philanthropic efforts on women and girls — but she offered no specifics.

French Gates has stated that after the US Supreme Court’s 2022 Dobbs decision that let individual states decide abortion rights, the philanthropist felt compelled to offer Americans financial support for their reproductive freedoms — support that she says she had been giving exclusively overseas.

“While I have long focused on improving contraceptive access overseas, in the post-Dobbs era, I now feel compelled to support reproductive rights here at home,” French Gates said in an op-ed Tuesday in the New York Times. “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 said she will donate $1 billion through 2026 to advance women’s rights around the world through her organization, Pivotal Ventures. That will include $200 million in grants to organizations that are fighting for women’s reproductive rights.

Among those recipients is The 19th, a nonprofit news organization that reports on gender policy. “Pinch me,” Emily Ramshaw, the company’s co-founder and CEO, said in a post on X.

“Sometimes dreams do come true,” Ramshaw said in a blog post on the company’s website. “This support will bolster our critical politics and policy coverage in a seismic election year, allow us to make strategic investments in our audiences and our future, and lay the foundation for our long-term sustainability in a turbulent time for our industry.”

Another recipient, The Institute for Women’s Policy Research, said its grant will help advance its work to improve women’s health across the United States and narrow the gender pay gap.

In an innovative effort that echoes those by mega-philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, French Gates also said she will grant $240 million to a group of 12 advocates and influential leaders around the world ($20 million each) to allow them to give the money to groups they believe are performing urgent and meaningful work in women’s health. Scott has shaken up the charitable world by shelling out large sums of money at rapid speed to organizations she favors — with no demands or strings attached.

The group of leaders includes former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, maternal-health advocate Allyson Felix and Afghan women’s education activist Shabana Basij-Rasikh, she said.

In her op-ed, French Gates said she was once told to set her own agenda before someone else sets it — and that’s why she chose to leave the Gates Foundation.

She said naysayers about charitable efforts to empower women have frustrated her with their shortsightedness. She called America’s high maternal mortality rate “unconscionable” and decried America’s status as the only advanced economy without paid family leave at a national level.

Just 2% of donations in the United States go to organizations focused on women and girls, French Gates noted. But she said investments in women’s health will add significantly to the global economy.

She further wrote in her op-ed, “Because I have been given this extraordinary opportunity, I am determined to do everything I can to seize it and to set an agenda that helps other women and girls set theirs, too.”