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11 Quotes That Show How Melinda Gates Is Tackling Extreme Poverty

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Today, Melinda Gates celebrates her 53rd birthday. 

Much has changed in her 53 years on earth, especially when it comes to poverty alleviation. Since 1960, the number of people living in extreme poverty has been cut by more than half: from nearly 2 billion to just under 700 million. 

Gates, for her part, has played an outsized role in making that happen. 

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The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which was founded in 2000, has given more than $40 billion toward the alleviation of extreme poverty, supporting work in all 50 US states and more than 100 countries around the world. 

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Among its numerous projects around the world, the charity has worked with the GAVI alliance to bring life-saving vaccines to millions of children in developing countries, aimed to overhaul the US public education system, and for more than a decade has endeavored to increase access to water and sanitation facilities across the African continent. 

Gates, an outspoken advocate for women and girls around the world, has served not only as a philanthropic donor, but as a role model for young women everywhere. 

Her philanthropic work is surpassed only, perhaps, by her wisdom and eloquence, her ability to distill complex development issues into comprehensible nuggets of wisdom. 

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In honor of her birthday, here are 10 quotes from Melinda Gates that show how she’s truly a Global Citizen: 

On women & girls:  

1/ “Women truly only get empowered when there’s a collective of them. You get one woman down in a village trying to break the system. She can’t do it at the village level unless she’s got women around her.” — Interview with Wired

2/ “Limiting women’s power keeps everyone poor. Fortunately, as a society becomes better off, a woman’s position in that society improves.” — 2017 Annual Letter

3/ "I’m optimistic about what the next 18 years will bring all of us as these young men grow up to become equal partners in their households, champions for women in workplace and architects of a better, more equitable future for their own sons and daughters.” — “How I Raised a Feminist Son,” Op-Ed in Time Magazine

4/ “You can create all kinds of new tools, but if you’re not moving toward equality, you’re not really changing the world. You’re just rearranging it.” — 2017 Annual Letter

On foreign aid cuts: 

5/ “Far from locking countries in cycles of dependency, smart aid investments actually help countries unlock virtuous cycles of growth.” — CNN Op-Ed

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6/ “Enabling women to time and space their pregnancies and providing access to treatment and prevention of infectious diseases is lifesaving work. It saves moms’ lives and it saves babies’ lives, and that has long had wide support in the United States..” — Interview with the Guardian

On health: 

7/ “When women are able to time and space their pregnancies, they are more likely to advance their education and earn an income — and they’re more likely to have healthy children.” — 2017 Annual Letter

On education: 

8/ “Kids are falling through the cracks and nobody notices it. That to me is what’s wrong with the school system.” — Interview in Oprah magazine

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On development: 

9/ “Public advocates are important, which is why I’ve taken on that role. But nothing can take the place of a trusted voice in the community.” — 2017 Annual Letter

10/ “It’s important to remember that behind each data point is a daughter, a mother, a sister — a person with hopes and dreams.” — Interview with Marie Claire

11/ “Optimism is a huge asset. We can always use more of it. But optimism isn’t a belief that things will automatically get better; it’s a conviction that we can make things better. — 2017 Annual Letter