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Melinda French Gates, a co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has announced that she will be leaving the foundation to focus on philanthropy efforts that support women and families worldwide. She plans to commit $1 billion in new spending over the next two years to organizations advocating for women’s rights, including reproductive rights in the United States. Despite the proven benefits of investing in women and girls, they continue to face threats to their safety and well-being globally.

Women are experiencing political violence, conflict, and health challenges around the world, including high rates of maternal mortality in the United States and restrictions on reproductive rights. Only a small percentage of charitable giving in the U.S. is directed towards organizations focused on women and girls, and even less towards organizations focusing on women of color. Melinda emphasizes the importance of addressing these issues, as failing to adequately fund organizations supporting women and girls can have far-reaching consequences for society as a whole.

In an effort to bring a wider range of perspectives into philanthropy, Melinda has offered grants to 12 individuals to distribute funds to organizations of their choosing. These individuals include figures such as Jacinda Ardern, Allyson Felix, and Shabana Basij-Rasikh, who bring unique expertise and experience to the table. Melinda hopes that this approach will unlock new funding opportunities and make a positive impact on women and girls around the world.

Melinda plans to introduce a $250 million initiative focused on improving the mental and physical health of women and girls globally. By reaching out to grassroots organizations that are often overlooked by major funders, she aims to provide support to those who have personal connections to the issues they work on. Melinda believes that these organizations on the front lines deserve attention and investment, and she is committed to making a difference in their lives.

As someone who never imagined being a part of such a philanthropic effort as a young woman, Melinda is determined to seize the extraordinary opportunity she has been given and set an agenda that empowers other women and girls to do the same. Through her organization Pivotal, she is working to support organizations advocating for women’s rights, reproductive rights, and overall well-being. Her goal is to make a positive impact on the lives of women and families worldwide and ensure that future generations have more opportunities and rights than ever before.

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