Anita Zaidi

Anita Zaidi

President, Gender Equality Division

As president of the foundation’s Gender Equality Division, Anita Zaidi oversees the foundation’s efforts to achieve gender equality by integrating gender across the foundation’s global work and by ensuring that women and girls in Africa and South Asia can enjoy good health, make their own choices, earn their own money, and be leaders in their societies. The mission of the division is a world in which women, babies, and girls can thrive.

Anita joined the foundation in 2014 to lead a team focused on vaccine development for people in the poorest parts of the world, disease surveillance to identify and address causes of death in children in the most underserved areas, and significantly reducing the adverse consequences of diarrheal and enteric infections on children’s health in low and middle-income countries. She served as director of the foundation’s Enteric and Diarrheal Diseases team and Vaccine Development and Surveillance team until November 2022. In those roles, Anita led strategies resulting in the development and deployment of many lifesaving and disease-preventing vaccines, including rotavirus vaccines, typhoid conjugate vaccines, cholera vaccines, and novel oral polio vaccines. She also championed innovative work on behalf of low-income women and children, including the creation of the foundation’s Maternal, Newborn & Child Health Discovery & Tools program and the development of the Women Leaders in Global Health program—now called WomenLift Health—to promote diversity in global health leadership. She has led the Gender Equality Division since November 2020.

Previously, Anita served as chair of the Department of Pediatrics and Child Health at the Aga Khan University (AKU) in Karachi, Pakistan, where she worked to reduce child mortality through the prevention and treatment of newborn illnesses and vaccine-preventable diseases.

Anita earned a medical degree at AKU and completed further training at Duke University (pediatrics and microbiology), Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School (pediatric infectious diseases), and the Harvard School of Public Health. Anita has published more than 200 research papers on vaccine-preventable diseases and newborn infections in resource-limited settings.

In 2013, Anita became the first recipient of the $1 million Caplow Children’s Prize for her pioneering work in bringing health services and wraparound care to mothers and children in poverty-stricken communities in Karachi. In 2014, she was nominated as a physician of the year by Medscape. In 2021, she was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Medicine for global leadership in pediatric infectious disease research and capacity development for improving newborn and child survival in LMICs.

See articles by Anita Zaidi

A laboratory at Afrigen Biologics & Vaccines in Cape Town, South Africa, which is partnering with the World Health Organization and the Biovac Institute to establish an mRNA technology transfer hub in Cape Town.

Geographically distributed manufacturing capacity is needed for improved global health security

Now is the time to support developing countries in building the infrastructure, skills, and systems they need to develop safe and affordable vaccines for diseases that mostly affect poorer nations.
By Anita Zaidi President, Gender Equality Division, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Woman working in front of laptop from home, with child on her lap.

Governments build roads and bridges. Why is another essential piece of infrastructure, child care, built on women’s unpaid labor?

The pandemic has been devastating to women’s employment. Unless governments and the private sector start to think of child care as essential infrastructure, post-pandemic recovery plans will falter.
By Anita Zaidi President, Gender Equality Division, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Anita Zaidi holding child in Pakistan

Poverty is sexist: A Q&A with new Gender Equality Division President Anita Zaidi

New Gender Equality Division President Anita Zaidi discusses the newly created division and what it means for the foundation.
By Anita Zaidi President, Gender Equality Division, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

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