Women Living In Poor Communities Most Powerful Resource For Health, Development

In a POLITICO opinion piece, published as part of “a series in which dozens of women will reveal what women they most admire … part of ‘Women Rule,’ a unique effort this fall by POLITICO, Google and The Tory Burch Foundation exploring how women are leading change in politics, policy and their communities,” Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, reflects on her friendship with Jane Otai, whom she first met during a visit to Kenya, where Otai “is a senior program adviser for Jhpiego,” a partner organization to the Gates Foundation “that bring[s] quality health care to women and their families.” Gates writes, “When POLITICO asked me to write about a woman who inspires me, I realized she’s also one of my heroes.”

“Over the years, she has taught me that the most powerful resource in poor communities around the world is the women who live there,” Gates continues. She writes about Jane’s life having grown up in a slum in Kenya, and notes, “She, in fact, believes access to family planning helped her succeed.” Gates continues, “Family planning is my top priority and my passion. I spend my time learning about it.” She concludes, “My friendship with Jane constantly reminds me that, while I can do a lot to help, the solutions come from the bravery and resilience and talent of millions of women in communities around the world” (12/19).