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What does split behind the most powerful private charitable institution in the world mean for philanthropy?

Bill and Melinda Gates’ announcement of their divorce Monday after 27 years of marriage took the development world by surprise. Catherine Cheney digs into the pivotal question for our Devex Pro subscribers: Can a divorcing couple continue to co-steer the world’s largest private foundation together, or will they put their money elsewhere?

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• According to the foundation’s official statement, the two “will remain co-chairs and trustees,” with no changes to their roles except scheduling adjustments. But as one development insider tells Catherine, “divorces are always hard, and they don’t always bring out the best in people.”

• Even while together, the couple have not always seen eye to eye. According to Melinda (who recently added her maiden name to her social media), she had to fight Bill to add her name to their annual letter about the organization’s work. Both have pursued different interests in recent years, setting up private grant-making organizations separate from the Gates Foundation.

• The Gates have asked for privacy, but there are real public implications. Much of the Gates’ estimated $130 billion fortune has not been donated to the foundation, meaning the two could still put those assets elsewhere, especially if they’re finding it difficult to co-chair the organization, or if their interests diverge.

• For a detailed breakdown of issues surrounding philanthropy and the divorce — including what it means for Warren Buffett, the Giving Pledge, and how Mackenzie Scott figures in all this — watch Catherine’s in-depth conversation with Raj Kumar.

Devex Pro: What does Bill and Melinda Gates’ divorce mean for their philanthropy? 

The junta becomes the hunted

Witnesses before the U.S. Congress yesterday advised lawmakers to recognize Myanmar’s 27-member National Unity Government as the country’s best chance at a guiding force once its current political crisis has died down. But some, like Rep. Ted Lieu, found the fact that the group doesn’t include a single representative of the country’s persecuted Rohingya minority to be a stumbling block.

Another recommendation, according to Adva Saldinger’s report: pushing for a U.N. Security Council resolution including sanctions, though both China and Russia are expected to oppose such measures.

Read: Experts outline actions US should take to respond to Myanmar coup


The European Investment Bank has promised to address recommendations after it was criticized for not engaging with or considering Indigenous communities in Nepal as part of a  $114 million energy project. The bank is struggling to prove its development credentials, Vince Chadwick reports — but while it says it has an action plan to move forward, that plan has not yet been made public.

Get the inside track on how business, social enterprise, and development finance leaders are tackling global challenges by signing up to our weekly Devex Invested newsletter.

Kenya’s LGBTQ health gap

“Most of the time, you will be doing things in hiding. And when you have issues, you can’t even share with anyone because you may be charged, even if it is to do with your health.”

—  Peter Njane, director of Ishtar MSM, a Kenyan community organization focused on the rights of men who have sex with men

LGBTQ people in Kenya — one of the 32 African countries where homosexuality is criminalized — see barriers to health care that their straight peers don’t. And while Njane and others push for those restrictions to be repealed, decriminalization itself likely won’t be enough. In South Africa, where LGBTQ people’s rights are enshrined in law, a huge majority of men who have sex with men say they still prefer not to visit government health clinics.

Read: Criminalization and stigma limit LGBTQ access to health care in Africa

More like HE-7

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In other news

The opposition party in India is calling for a full national lockdown to quell the current wave of COVID-19. [BBC]

U.S. senators are urging the Biden administration to help fill the funding gap for Yemen after a pledging summit in March failed to raise needed cash. [Al Jazeera]

Current estimates by researchers say world is closer to reaching the Paris Agreement goal to limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius, but only if recent pledges to reduce emissions are met. [AP]

About the author

  • William Worley

    William Worley is the U.K. Correspondent for Devex, covering DFID and British aid. Previously, he reported on international affairs, policy, and development. He also worked as a reporter for the U.K. national press, including the Times, Guardian, Independent, and i Paper. His reportage has included work on the Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh, drought in Madagascar, the "migrant caravan" in Mexico, and Colombia’s peace process. He can be reached at