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Melinda French Gates to resign from Gates Foundation, will pursue own philanthropy with $12.5 billion grant

Melinda French Gates, the former wife of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, announced on Monday she would resign as co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation next month.

French Gates said in a statement on X that it was a "critical moment" to protect and advance women's rights around the world. The announcement comes almost exactly three years after the Gates' announced their divorce.

She said she will have "an additional $12.5 billion to commit to my work on behalf of women and families" as a result of her resignation and the Gates' divorce agreement. The couple divorced in May 2021.

Bill Gates said in a separate statement, "I am sorry to see Melinda leave, but I am sure she will have a huge impact in her future philanthropic work."

The Gates Foundation's work has focused on worldwide anti-poverty and global health initiatives, including anti-malaria efforts in Africa, and extensive investment across the Indian subcontinent and South Asia.

French Gates has also devoted significant amounts of time and money toward gender-equality initiatives worldwide. In 2015, she founded Pivotal Ventures, a separate entity from the Gates Foundation, which is focused on removing barriers to access and opportunity for minorities and women in the U.S.

Gates and French Gates separated in 2021, more than two years after CNBC first reported on the Microsoft co-founder's relationship with disgraced financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

French Gates began meeting with divorce lawyers in 2019, after news of Gates' relationship with Epstein first emerged, The Wall Street Journal previously reported.

The Gates Foundation has been one of the most powerful private philanthropic forces in the world in recent decades. Gates directed the