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    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

In February, Melinda Gates reiterated her foundation’s pledge to make birth control available to 120 million women globally by 2020, doing so in a passionate personal essay that reminded readers of the link between reproductive rights and economic growth. Her words sparked conversation among allies and foes alike; the fact that they carried so far shows the respect Gates has earned as the public face of the foundation she and her husband, Bill Gates, started. That clout is the fruit of real results: The nearly $37 billion worth of grants the foundation had paid out through 2015 has had an enormous impact in empowering women and reducing infectious disease in the developing world.