Melinda and Bill Gates, two of the richest people in the world, who reshaped philanthropy and public health with Gates’ fortune as a Microsoft co-founder, said Monday they were getting divorced.
For decades, Mr. and Mrs. Gates have been powerful forces on the world stage, their vast charitable contributions allowing them access to the highest levels of government, business and the non-profit sector. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with an endowment of about $ 50 billion, has had immense influence in fields such as global health and early childhood education, and has made great strides in reducing deaths caused by the malaria and other infectious diseases. Over the past year, the couple have been especially visible, regularly commenting on the global fight against Covid-19, as their foundation spent more than $ 1 billion to fight the pandemic.
Why Melinda and Bill Gates got divorced?
“After much thought and hard work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” Mr. and Ms. Gates said in a statement posted on Twitter.
They went on to say that they had “built a foundation that works around the world to enable all people to lead healthy and productive lives” and that “they continue to share faith in that mission” but “they no longer believe in us we can grow together as couple in this next phase of our lives. ”
The foundation said in a statement that Mr. and Mrs. Gates would remain co-chairs and trustees and that no changes to the organization were expected.
Is they continue work together or not?
“They will continue to work together to shape and endorse the foundation’s strategies, advocate for the foundation’s issues, and establish the overall direction of the organization,” the statement said.
Still, the divorce will raise new questions about the fate of Gates’ fortune, much of which has yet to be donated to the Gates Foundation. Gates, 65, a co-founder of Microsoft, is one of the richest people in the world, worth an estimated $ 124 billion, according to Forbes. The Gates have been married for 27 years and have three children, ages 18 to 25.
“The Gates Foundation is the most important and influential philanthropic entity in the world today,” said Rob Reich, professor of political science at Stanford University. “Divorce can have huge repercussions for the foundation and its work around the world.”
With 1,600 staff members in offices around the world, the Gates Foundation gives away approximately $ 5 billion each year in areas such as public health and global development. For more than two decades, the foundation has spent billions to push vaccines to the developing world, working with pharmaceutical executives to transform the market.
The foundation leveraged its experience and relationships to play an important role in shaping the global response to the pandemic, investing early in vaccine candidates and helping shape Covax, the global initiative organizing vaccine purchases for 92 poor countries. and dozens of other nations.
Mr. and Mrs. Gates have earned high praise for their efforts, but the foundation has also received its fair share of criticism for working to protect the intellectual property rights of private companies. That has been highlighted now more than ever, as many national governments have pushed for open access to Covid vaccines to end the pandemic.
How did they come together?
Melinda joined Microsoft as a product manager in 1987, and the two sat down together at a business dinner that year in New York.
They started dating, but as Bill later put it in a Netflix documentary, “We loved each other very much and there were only two possibilities: either we were going to break up or we were going to get married.”
Melinda said she found Bill writing a list on a blackboard with the “pros and cons of getting married.”
They were married in 1994 on the Hawaiian island of Lanai and reportedly hired all the local helicopters to detain unwanted guests.
Bill resigned from Microsoft’s board of directors last year to focus on his philanthropic activities.
What is the Gates Foundation?
- The couple established the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000 in Seattle.
- The foundation primarily focuses on public health, education, and climate change.
- His grants included about $ 1.75 billion for vaccine initiatives and research during the Covid-19 pandemic.
- In 2019, the foundation had net assets of more than $ 43 billion.
- Bill and Melinda Gates injected more than $ 36 billion into the foundation between 1994 and 2018.
Source: Reuters news agency & nytimes