Melinda Gates: The world’s most powerful advocate for women and girls

Melinda Gates at the World Health Assembly, on May 20, 2014, in Geneva. (ALAIN GROSCLAUDE/AFP/Getty Images)

A new profile has detailed how Melinda Gates, as co-founder and co-chair of the Gates Foundation — the world’s largest-ever charitable foundation, with a $41.3 billion endowment — became the world’s most powerful person to focus her attention solely on women and girls. Fighting poverty is the most pressing issue of our time, Gates told Forbes magazine, and to do that “you have to put women and girls at the center.”

Gates went from being a general manager at Microsoft, to working as a stay-at-home mom for her three children, but as they grew up a period of “intense soul-searching” began and she decided to become more involved with the work of the Gates Foundation, focusing on initiatives that address the world’s most vulnerable women and girls. Starting three years ago, she travelled to Berlin to give a TedX talk, announcing a new initiative on family planning and universal birth control access. From there, she quickly became involved with programs on maternal and infant health, educational opportunities for girls, and initiatives encouraging micro-entrepreneurship among women. “[We are accountable] to the people of the world, honestly,” Gates told Forbes. “I do hope that at the end of our lives somebody will look back and say, ‘Melinda and Bill set out to change the world on behalf of poor people. Did they? Are more kids alive because of the work they did? Are fewer people getting malaria? Are more women getting contraceptives?’ That’s who we are accountable to.”

Read the full story at Forbes.

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