To commemorate International Women’s Day on Tuesday 8th March, Resonate is celebrating the lives of some of the world’s most generous women. From celebrities raising awareness for causes close to their heart, to successful businesswomen using their wealth to fund charity organisations; join us as we raise our glasses to some of the most influential women who are using their power for good!
1. Oprah Winfrey
Considered by many to be the world’s most influential woman, self-made billionaire Oprah Winfrey has reportedly given a total of over US$400 million throughout her lifetime to date. Oprah's private charity, The Oprah Winfrey Foundation has awarded hundreds of grants to organisations that encourage education and empowerment of women and children around the world, while the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy gives gifted girls from impoverished backgrounds the chance of education. Oprah also founded the Angel Network to encourage others to give by covering all administrative costs out of her own back pocket, meaning 100% of the profits go to charity!
2. Melinda Gates
Melinda Gates, wife of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, has certainly proven she is the philanthropy powerhouse in the Mr and Mrs Microsoft partnership. As co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which strives to improve global health and education, Melinda has been responsible for restructuring the organisation into three departments: worldwide health, global development and U.S. community and education. In 2012 she also pledged US$560 million toward improving access to contraception for women in poor countries.
3. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw
Hailing from Bangalore, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is founder of Biocon, an industrial-enzymes company which she established in 1978 during a time when professional businesswomen were rare in India. Biocon is now India's largest publicly traded biopharmaceutical company and boasts an annual revenue in the billions. Touched by a close friend’s demise to cancer, Mazumdar-Shaw has made it her mission to combat the disease and create affordable healthcare in India. Mazumdar-Shaw founded a 1400-bed cancer center in Bangalore dedicated to providing care to all patients regardless of income level, and has donated millions of dollars to philanthropic causes.
4. Layne Beachley
Layne Beachley is regarded as the most successful surfer in history as the only male or female to claim six consecutive world titles. Beachley also then went on to win another 7th world title before retiring in 2008. While surfing has always been Beachley’s passion, it’s her achievements out of the water that are also equally inspiring. Beachley founded the Aim for the Stars Foundation in 2003 which ensures that young women have the support they need to achieve greatness - something she had to fight hard for herself. As well as the work she has achieved through Aim for the Stars, Beachley has been an ambassador for Planet Ark and the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
5. Solina Chau
Daughter of a small-time businessman in Hong Kong, Solina Chau graduated from the University of New South Wales in Sydney and later married Hong Kong’s richest man, billionaire Li Ka-shin. Chau is the director of the Li Ka Shing Foundation which dedicates a third of its assets towards charity work. She also founded her own charity the HS Chau Foundation in 1996, which focuses on education and women's initiatives.
These female ‘heavyweights’ are just a few examples of influential women who are using their fame and fortune to make a real difference in the world. Some have come from nothing themselves, and while others have found fortune, they all have dedicated a significant part of their wealth, resources, time and energy to helping others.