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Melinda French Gates to donate $1bn for women’s causes

Melinda French Gates says she will donate $1bn to groups working on behalf of women around the world over the next two years.

Causes Ms French Gates will support include reproductive rights in the US, which have been scaled back across several states since the landmark Roe v Wade ruling was overturned.

It’s the second billion-dollar commitment she has made in the past five years, having pledged to expand women’s power and influence over ten years in 2019.

Writing in a guest essay for The New York Times, Ms French Gates said she has been frustrated by claims it isn’t the right time to talk about gender equality.

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

Earlier this month, Ms French Gates announced she would step down from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and vowed to focus on women and families.

As a part of leaving the Gates Foundation, she received $12bn (£9.4bn) from Bill Gates for her philanthropy going forward.

She said she’s started directing grants through her organisation, Pivotal Ventures, to groups working in the US to protect women’s rights

The grants are for general operating support, meaning they are not earmarked for specific projects.

In her essay, Ms French Gates touched upon the high maternal mortality rates in the US, noting black and Native American mothers are at the highest risk.

“Women in 14 states have lost the right to terminate a pregnancy under almost any circumstances,” she wrote.

“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.”

She also pledged to give 12 individuals $20m (£15.6m) each to distribute to non-profit organisations of their choice before the end of 2026.

Ms French Gates will be leaving the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation next week, the organisation she helped co-found nearly 25 years ago.

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