Melinda Gates, 56, and her husband Bill Gates, 65, shocked many of their social media followers on May 3 when they released a statement that announced the end of their 27-year marriage. The philanthropist and Microsoft founder, who were married in 1994, both took to Twitter and Instagram to share the news and revealed that a “great deal of thought” went into their final decision.
“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” the statement read. “Over the last 27 years, we have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives. We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue our work together at the foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives. We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life.”
Here are five things you should know about Melinda and her background with Bill.
Melinda met Bill in 1987. The pair dated four seven years before tying the knot in beautiful Lanai, HI in 1994. They share three children, two daughters and a son — Jennifer, 25, Phoebe, 18, and Rory Gates, 21.
Six years after their wedding, Bill and Melinda founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000. The organization has donated billions of dollars to health research during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In February, the foundation donated $100 million to health care research as the outbreak in the United States grew more serious. In April 2020, they donated another $150 million in testing aid, treatment, and helping impoverished countries create a plan of sustainability during the uncertain time. As of the publishing of this article, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the second-largest donor to the World Health Organization.
Melinda was not satisfied with how President Donald Trump‘s administration treated the coronavirus pandemic. On Thursday, May 7, 2020, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave the Trump administration a D- for their leadership during the outbreak. “We need leadership at the national level. We lost two months almost now in terms of our national response,” Bill shared with Politico last year.
Melinda also insisted that one of the biggest issues facing America during the pandemic was the lack of testing. “You know, if we were doing the things that the exemplar countries are doing, like Germany, we would be testing. We would be testing, first, health care workers and then the most vulnerable, and you’d be doing contact tracing,” she said. “And we would be able to start thinking about slowly, slowly reopening places in society in safe and healthy ways, but we have a lack of a coordinated effort.”
As a major donor to the World Health Organization, Melinda quickly became one of strongest voices from the Trump administration opposition. Her foundation has donated millions of dollars to combat the pandemic, making her and her soon-to-be ex-husband, two of the biggest financial donors in the fight against COVID-19.
In 2013, Melinda Gates was appointed an honorary Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for her philanthropy and work on the international stage. In 2016, President Barack Obama also awarded her and her husband the Presidential Medal of Freedom for their philanthropic efforts.
In 2019, Melinda published her first book The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World. The book is a New York Times bestseller. Her work focused on a span of issues from child marriage, to the lack of access to contraceptives, and inequity in the work place.