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Page last updated at 10:41 GMT, Thursday, 27 December 2012
Melinda Gates on her Today programme

Melinda Gates

I am used to talking and writing about the work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, but being a guest editor for the BBC Today programme was altogether a different experience.

It's been fun but challenging to try to put together a series of segments that is varied and entertaining to a broad audience - but that also tell a single story that captures the way I look at the world. Luckily, I was able to bring together some very inspiring people to help me create a program of which I am proud.

When Bill and I were married, his mother wrote me a letter in which she quoted the Gospel of Luke: "From those to whom much is given, much is expected."

Warren Buffett
Melinda interviews her friend Warren Buffett

One of the people we have talked to over the years about philanthropy and the responsibilities that come with wealth is Warren Buffett.

He's a close friend - our children love it when he stays with us because he teases their dad - and he's also a mentor we respect deeply. I am excited that I was able to interview Warren for the programme, to share a tiny bit of his unique wisdom with listeners.

In 2000, Bill and I decided it was time to follow through on his mother's counsel by starting our foundation. Our guiding principle was our conviction that all lives have equal value.

What followed from that idea was our foundation's mission statement—that all people deserve the chance to lead a healthy, productive life. Our foundation invests in things like contraceptives, vaccines, and improved seeds that help the poorest people in the poorest countries prosper.

Women and development

This work requires massive partnerships, and the U.K. government is among our closest partners. We respect Prime Minister David Cameron so much for his continued commitment to overseas development despite a tough economic environment.

It was an honour that the prime minister agreed to talk to me about what he's seen that makes him confident that the work we're doing together is so worthwhile. As someone who advocates for foreign aid spending all the time, I'm always impressed by how clear and convincing the prime minister is when he speaks on the subject.

One of my key areas of focus as a leader of our foundation is helping women and girls in developing countries fulfil their potential. I feel connected to the women I meet when I travel.

From a strategic point of view, I know that women and girls invest in their families and in the future, so empowered women and girls build strong communities and lead to economic and social development.

London 2012 Paralympic medals
She also pays tribute to the 2012 London Paralympic Games

Women themselves make this case most powerfully, so I took the opportunity of being guest editor to present the voices of several African women leaders, including two presidents, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient and women who are creating change in their own communities.

Hearing their stories fills me with inspiration and optimism. I am confident radio listeners will feel the same way.

And then there are the segments that have nothing to do with my day job. My favourite painting is Mary Cassat's Mother and Child, so I was excited to invite an artist and an art historian to discuss Cassat's work.

This summer our family attended the London Games and we were impressed by the outstanding performances of so many Olympic and Paralympic athletes. London really put on memorable Games and I wanted to feature a conversation with people who have been instrumental in inspiring young people to play sport.

I am told that more than seven million people listen to the programme. While perhaps a bit nervous about presenting these shards of my life to so many people, I have really enjoyed the process of thinking about how to express myself and also provide a glimpse of our foundation's work in this format.

Melinda Gates guest edits the Today programme, BBC Radio 4, from 0600-0900 GMT, Friday 28 December.


Get in touch with Today via email , Twitter or Facebook or text us on 84844.




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