Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: Grants for Girls and Women

OVERVIEW: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supports issues related to girls and women through a wide range of grantmaking programs.

IP TAKE: The causes the Gates Foundation supports are “wildly disparate.” The foundation aims to support organizations that are solving complex and deeply rooted global health and development challenges.

PROFILE: Founded by Bill and Melinda Gates in 1994, the Gates Foundation is one of the largest charitable organizations in the world. The foundation is guided by the simple tenet that “all lives have equal value,” and Gates aims to “find solutions for people with the most urgent needs, wherever they live.” The foundation oversees four major grantmaking programs: Global Development, Global Health, Global Policy and Advocacy, and the United States. Each of Gates’s grantmaking programs offer multiple subprograms.

While many of the foundation’s giving programs can be applied to improving the lives of girls and women around the world, the foundation conducts most of its girls and women-related grantmaking through Family Planning, Maternal, Newborn & Child Health, and Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene.

The Gates Foundation’s Family Planning strategy aims to “bring access to high-quality contraceptive information, services and supplies” to an additional 120 million women and girls living in the world’s poorest countries. In the long-term, Gates seeks universal access to family planning information, supplies and services. Past grantees include Population Action International, which received an award to support the expansion of its Faith+Family Planning Fund.

The foundation’s Maternal, Newborn & Child Health strategy seeks organizations ensuring women and their newborns not only survive pregnancy but also remain healthy through gestation and childbirth. CARE is a past grantee of this strategy. It received an award for its platform to improve and strengthen maternal and newborn care services in the healthcare system.

The Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene strategy aims to “enable universal access to sustainable sanitation services.” Women and girls are traditionally responsible for gathering water and tending to the home’s sanitation activities. Past grantees include the Center for Affordable Water & Sanitation Technology. The organization received a grant to support capacity-building services to non-sewered sanitation regions in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. 

The foundation also awards gender equality-related grants through multiple giving programs. To learn more about Gates grantees across all programs, explore its excellent grants database.

Gates grants can range from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of millions of dollars. While the foundation occasionally announces requests for proposals and open calls for grant applications, for the most part, this funder does not accept unsolicited requests for funding.

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