Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates -- seen here in 2018, divorced in 2021 but had continued to co-chair their eponymous foundation
Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates -- seen here in 2018, divorced in 2021 but had continued to co-chair their eponymous foundation. Photo: AFP / Ludovic MARIN AFP News

Melinda French Gates wrote an explosive essay on Tuesday, criticising her ex-husband, Bill Gates, known for being a serial entrepreneur and the fifth richest man in the world, for his "frustrating and shortsighted" lack of philanthropic support for women's rights.

After she unexpectedly left the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation last month for a hefty price of $12.5 billion, French Gates announced that her new organisation would provide $1 billion to projects that support women, families and reproductive rights over the next two years.

What's more, French Gates went on to blame her former husband for delaying her humanitarian and charitable efforts. French Gates said the Microsoft founder discouraged her from launching her new organisation and limited her efforts to the cause before they divorced in 2021.

In an opinion piece published by the New York Times, French Gates revealed that she has left the foundation she co-founded to concentrate on her personal goals, which prioritise promoting all aspects of gender equality.

"In nearly 20 years as an advocate for women and girls, I have learned that there will always be people who say it's not the right time to talk about gender equality," French Gates wrote. "Not if you want to be relevant. Not if you want to be effective with world leaders, most of them men. The second the global agenda gets crowded, women and girls fall off."

Since the former couple launched the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000, the organisation has distributed $77 billion in donations.

According to a press statement, the organisation pledged $2.1 billion in 2021 "to advance gender equality globally."

However, French Gates has since exposed the organisation for its lack of funds going towards women.

"It's frustrating and shortsighted... For too long, a lack of money has forced organisations fighting for women's rights into a defensive posture while the enemies of progress play offence. I want to help even the match," French Gates wrote.

"Only about 2 per cent of charitable giving in the United States goes to organisations focused on women and girls, and only about half a percentage point goes to organisations focused on women of colour specifically," she added. "When we allow this cause to go so chronically underfunded, we all pay the cost. As shocking as it is to contemplate, my one-year-old granddaughter may grow up with fewer rights than I had."

French Gates went on to criticise the repeal of Roe v. Wade, which protected a woman's right to an abortion federally, to argue that women and girls in the US and around the world now face more challenges to their freedoms than they have in decades.

French Gates, who split from the Microsoft founder after reports linked him to convicted paedophile Jeffery Epstein, also revealed details about how her newly founded non-profit organisation, Pivotal Venture, sets out to address the gender pay gap.

According to a statement published by her organisation, $200 million in funding will be given to organisations "working in the United States to protect the rights of women and advance their power and influence."

The billionaire donor said that the National Women's Law Centre, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and the Centre for Reproductive Rights will receive $1 billion from her new non-profit organisation.

French Gates also revealed that she has extended an offer to 12 people to create a $20 million grant-making fund, which they can use for whatever cause they choose. Among the recipients are Afghani Shabana Basij-Rasikh, an Afghan champion of girls' education and former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.