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Forbes: Most Powerful Women

3. Melinda Gates, Cochair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, U.S.

Primary goals for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation this year have been to eradicate polio worldwide by 2018 and get modern contraceptives to another 120 million women by 2020; the Foundation has committed $140 million annually to this cause. In 2012 a particular emphasis was placed on devising tools for quantifying the success of initiatives as governments increasingly look for proof of the efficacy of the programs they pay for. "Some of the projects we fund will fail," the Gates say on the Foundation website of their own financial commitments. "We not only accept that, we expect it because we think an essential role of philanthropy is to make bets on promising solutions that governments and businesses can't afford to make." 2013 SPOTLIGHT: The Gates Foundation gave away $3.4 billion last year, the vast majority to global health programs, and has made more than $26 billion in grant commitments since the Foundation's 2000 founding.

(AP Photo/Christoph Soeder/dapd)

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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