The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced commitments totaling $220 million in support of efforts to empower women and save the lives of thirty-eight million women, children, and adolescents by 2030.
Announced on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly meeting, the commitments include a $200 million pledge to the World Bank's Global Financing Facility Trust Fund in support of the UN's Every Woman Every Child initiative, launched in 2010 to address the major health challenges women, children, and adolescents face. With the goal of expanding the financing facility to fifty countries over the next five years, the fund aims to raise $2 billion to help close the estimated funding gap of $33 billion a year. Each dollar invested in the GFF Trust Fund leverages domestic government resources, financing from the World Bank's International Development Association and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, aligned external financing, and private-sector resources. To date, eleven projects supported by $307 million in GFF Trust Fund grants and linked to $1.8 billion in IDA/IBRD financing have been approved.
"The world has made historic progress against global poverty and disease, but that progress is in jeopardy," said Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, which is a member of the investors group overseeing GFF. "Investing in women and children's health is critical to lifting the world's poorest out of poverty, and the Global Financing Facility offers an innovative blueprint to make financing health more effective."
At the Gates Foundation's inaugural "Goalkeepers" event this week, held in New York City following the release of its report on the Sustainable Development Goals, the Gates Foundation also announced a $20 million commitment to strengthen local grassroots women's groups and women's movements. The grants will support organizations including Mama Cash and the Prospera network, which sub-grant to grassroots women's groups across the Global South and help build strategic alliances; targeted campaigns to advance the SDGs and amplifying local women's voices in the process; online and offline platforms, including the Change.org Foundation and the Amref Advocacy Accelerator; and research to deepen understanding of the impact of movements and strengthen the investment case.
Other commitments announced at the event include an effort led by Last Mile Health to support the development and expansion of national community health worker programs through online platforms; an effort involving the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to expand access to digital financial services for the world's poorest; and the Power of Nutrition, a platform founded by the Children's Investment Fund Foundation and others to multiply contributions to provide millions of children with high-impact nutrition interventions, which plans to expand into Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, India, and Madagascar.
"We are at a defining moment in the history of global development where we can either collectively show resolve and get the job done, or turn our backs on human suffering and inequity," said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation. "I believe when people know about the progress we've already made, they'll be inspired to finish the job."
(Photo credit: Capt. John Severns, U.S. Air Force)