Women In The Black

The Real Humanitarians: The Greatest Female Philanthropists Of Our Times

Betty Amsden

By Shayna Smith

Women are considered givers. Whether it’s their time, their love, or their money, they give freely to their families and things they believe in.

It’s only fitting then that we look at female philanthropists, who have given away a considerable amount of their time, energy and wealth to larger causes. In this post we bring to you women from various backgrounds who have used their experiences and the opportunities available to them to make the world a better place. They have conquered great hurdles in life but continued to march along the path they believed in.

These are women who are dedicated to their professional lives and are working tirelessly within their capacities, and sometimes also way beyond, to bring about positive changes in the lives of people across the world. They are a great source of inspiration for all of us for just by being the way they are and by doing what they believe in sincerely.

Let’s look at some of the top female philanthropists of the modern times.

Betty Amsden

It’s only fair to begin this list with the oldest member of the female philanthropist group. This 86-year-old Australian is an inspiration to all women. She has been giving to the society for more than 30 years, and shows no signs of slowing down even in her advancing years.

Arts are close to this investor’s heart, and she has donated millions of dollars to various related causes over the past decade, including a more than $6 million donation to the Victorian Arts Centre.

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

India’s richest woman, worth US$625 million, who has pledged to give away 75 per cent of her wealth after she dies.

Mazumdar-Shaw runs a biotechnology company, Biocon Ltd, and makes the Forbes list of the “world’s 100 most powerful women and the Financial Times’ top 50 women in business”.

She is focused on bringing affordable healthcare to India’s poor, fighting cancer, and providing related aid to the economically weaker sections of the society. She has already donated more than $33 million to various causes and runs a cancer centre, a research centre, primary health clinics in several villages, and organises health camps. “My legacy is going to be affordable health care,” she says.

Dame Stephanie Shirley

This German-born self-made British businesswoman has given away more than £65 million in philanthropic causes. She had arrived in the UK as a child refugee from Vienna just before the start of World War II and rose to become an extraordinarily successful technology entrepreneur, which brought her hundreds of millions of pounds in wealth. She says she gives away 75 per cent of her money to organisations dedicated to fighting autism, after losing her own son to the condition.

Helene Gayle

Dr. Helene Gayle is the president and CEO of CARE USA, the American branch of CARE International – a humanitarian organisation dedicated to fighting poverty across the world.

Dr. Gayle is an “expert on health, global development and humanitarian issues”. Under her leadership CARE USA has introduced a number of initiatives to empower people globally. They are focusing on bringing access to “safe pregnancy and delivery services for 30 million women in Africa, Asia, and Latin America by 2015” and “empower 10 million girls around the world to access quality primary education and gain leadership skills by 2015”, among other things.

Foreign Policy magazine listed her among the Top 100 Global Thinkers, while the Newsweek has named her among the top 10 Women in Leadership.

Oprah Winfrey

Not even taking into account the millions of lives that her show has touched across the world for over 25 years, this self-made billionaire is easily among the top female philanthropists of our times.

Winfrey is a woman of passion who puts her money where her mouth is. She has used her celebrity to excellent results by raising awareness about major issues across the world.

From 2004 to 2010, she remained among the 50 most generous people in America. She is a big believer in the transformative power of education, and “by 2012 she had given away about $400 million to educational causes”.

She opened a Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa for the betterment of under-privileged girls in that country, and indeed, across the continent.

Oprah and her team carried out extensive relief work in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and raised more than $11 million for this purpose. She donated $10 million of her own money and her network saw to it that “homes were built in Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama before the one-year anniversary of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.”

Ertharin Cousin

Hunger is a widespread problem in the developing world and anybody who is dedicating to fighting it is a super-heroine in our book!

As the executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme, Cousin fed over 97 million people in 2012. Serving as the US ambassador to the UN Agencies for Food and Agriculture, she is credit with setting up various country-led aid programmes and was also responsible for bringing food relief to Haiti post the devastating earthquakes in 2010.

Audrey Hepburn

This Academy Award-winning actress is known more for her charitable work now than she is for her evergreen hits such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Roman Holiday.

Still heavily involved with cinema, Audrey moved towards humanitarian causes in the latter part of her career, most noticeably towards those concerning children. From 1988 to 1993, she served as a Goodwill Ambassador for United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund. As part of this role, Audrey worked tirelessly and whole-heartedly as she travelled to the poorest regions in the world to work with under-privileged children. She also sold some of the most iconic dresses of hers to “provide food, clean water, and clothes for the kids”.

Shayna Smith has been working as a freelance writer for a long time. She has a diverse background in shopping, relationships and parenting. She loves sharing her opinions on the latest issues affecting women and is also an expert on strawberrynet.


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