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Melinda French Gates convinces more billionaires to give their fortunes to women and girls’ causes

January 10, 2023, 2:32 PM UTC
Melinda French Gates talks with Fortune’s Michal Lev-Ram at the 2022 MPW summit.
Kristy Walker for Fortune

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Nurses strike in New York City, the Biden administration introduced new income-based student loan repayment rules, and Melinda French Gates advocates for women and girls to the world’s wealthiest.

– Giving pledge. Since stepping into the spotlight as a philanthropist on her own terms, Melinda French Gates has made waves. She’s doubled down on her support for women. She’s spoken about the realities of divorce. And now, she’s trying to convince other philanthropists to help.

A new story in the Wall Street Journal describes French Gates’ new role as a solo philanthropist. According to the story, French Gates met with a small group of fellow signers of the Giving Pledge, the promise the ultra-wealthy make to give away their fortunes, in November. At that meeting, she argued that fixing the caregiving crisis in the U.S. is one of the most important issues facing women today.

“We have to fix this country’s broken caregiving system if we want to see more women unlock real power in their lives,” she said.

The anecdote is an example of how women are wielding power behind the scenes as the distribution of wealth around the world changes. Donations to organizations focused on women and girls totaled $7.9 billion in 2019 or just 1.9% of charitable giving in the U.S., the Journal reported.

With an $11 billion fortune, French Gates is listed at No. 172 on the Bloomberg Billionaires’ Index. The enormous sum is still smaller than the net worths many Giving Pledge signers have promised—like MacKenzie Scott. So French Gates’ true influence may come by not just donating her own money to women and girls, but convincing others to give away theirs.

Emma Hinchliffe

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- Meanwhile... As the Biden administration's student loan forgiveness plan is held up in the courts, it is taking additional steps to change existing student loan policies. The Education Department introduced new rules modifying income-based repayment plans. Wall Street Journal

- City strike. More than 7,000 nurses walked off the job in New York City yesterday. Their strike protested widespread staffing shortages that they say are leading to burnout and worse patient care. CNN

- Demanding job. Shannon Watts founded the gun safety organization Moms Demand Action after the Sandy Hook massacre more than a decade ago. This year, she plans to retire as the group's leader, she announced yesterday. Washington Post

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Heyward Donigan left her role as CEO of Rite Aid; the drugstore chain's interim CEO is board member Elizabeth Burr. Fairygodboss cofounder Romy Newman joins the mental health startup Real as chief revenue officer. Time hired Forbes's Sadé Muhammad as CMO. Fine art auction house Hindman promoted Alyssa D. Quinlan to CEO. Trailrunner International promoted Sarah Grubbs to managing director. WSP USA promoted Rebecca Nolan to chief development officer. Massella Dukuly joined Charter as head of workplace strategy and innovation. Oak Street Health named Deb Edberg chief wellness officer.


- Senate seatRep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) is reportedly planning to launch a bid for Senate. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), 89, is expected to retire ahead of the 2024 race but hasn't yet announced her plans. Politico

- #MeToo ministerMariëtte Hamer has a rare government job. In the Netherlands, she's the country's commissioner tackling sexual violence and misconduct in the workplace. She thought her main challenge would be to keep the conversation about #MeToo going, but instead, she found that these are problems that require a massive societal overhaul. Bloomberg

- McConsequences. Former McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook agreed to a five-year ban on serving as a public company officer or director. He was accused of making misleading statements about having sexual relationships with employees and was subject to a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation following his exit from the fast food giant. He agreed to pay a $400,000 fine without admitting to the SEC's fraud claims. Wall Street Journal


When having it all means it's all falling apart Wall Street Journal

The FTC’s proposed ban on noncompetes wouldn’t only mean a huge victory for Gen Z workers. Here’s why it would also benefit employers across the country Fortune

Why did the Sex Lives of College Girls finale betray its thesis of female friendship? Jezebel


"To talk about the dynamic of power set in a patriarchal world, but with women having the power…I was scared!" 

- Actor Noémie Merlant on her role in the Cate Blanchett film Tár, about the abusive female conductor of a major orchestra. 

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