- Melinda Gates is one of the most powerful women in the world, according to Forbes.
- She could be worth $73 billion if she and Bill Gates split their fortune equally in the divorce.
- Gates will continue in her role as co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Melinda Gates is the fifth most powerful woman in the world, and the second American — after Vice President Kamala Harris — to make Forbes’ The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women list.
She and her husband, Bill, announced on May 3 plans to divorce after being married 27 years. Though they don’t have a prenuptial agreement, if they split their $146 billion fortune equally, Melinda would be worth around $73 billion.
Gates has become one of the most prolific philanthropists in the world as co-chair of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which she helmed virtually on her own for the first six years of operation. She is now co-chair of the foundation with Bill, positions they said they will maintain even after the divorce.
She said in a statement posted to Twitter that she and Bill continue to believe in the mission of the foundation and will continue their work there.
In addition to the foundation’s education and healthcare initiatives, Gates takes a personal interest in women’s issues around the world. At the forefront of her agenda is expanding the availability of contraception and bringing awareness to the concept of time poverty — the notion that hours of daily unpaid work like household chores end up “robbing women of their potential.”
In 2016, Gates was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the US, by President Obama.
Keep scrolling to learn more about her life and how she became one of the world’s richest and most powerful women.
Additional reporting from Tanza Loudenback.