Ask A Woman: Melinda Gates enters Trump racism row, condemns 'senseless' anti-vaxxers and justifies battle with Pope

As co-chair of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Melinda Gates has poured billions into philanthropy projects around the world.

She spoke to ITV News at Ten Presenter Julie Etchingham in central London before heading to Paris to address G7 finance ministers on funding needed to boost digital financial inclusion, which she believes can transform the lives of women living in poverty.

Mrs Gates explained on the Ask A Woman digital podcast why delivering phones with digital bank accounts could add $3.7 trillion (£2.98 trillion) to emerging economies by 2025 and create 95 million more jobs.

And she discussed the biggest talking point in US politics, throwing her powerful voice behind those condemning Donald Trump's attack on four congresswomen as racist, telling ITV News the US president "isn't being true" to American values.

Speaking a day after US politicians voted to reject Mr Trump’s incendiary comments, the former Microsoft general manager said Mr Trump's views are "not OK" and must be stood up to, adding, "It's a concerning time in America."

Mrs Gates said: "Any time you have somebody make a disparaging comment about race or about a woman, we have to as society stand up and say: 'That's not right.'"

Julie Etchingham and Melinda Gates spoke in central London a day before the campaigner's G7 address. Credit: ITV News

When asked whether she thinks America has a racist in the White House, she said: "I don't know. I don't know him well enough to know that"

But the 54-year-old Texan added: "I think global leaders should be true to our values as Americans and I don't think the current president is doing that."

In a wide-ranging interview, the healthcare and equality campaigner condemned the anti-vax movement as "senseless" and explained why she is happy - as a practising Catholic - to battle the Vatican over contraception.

She also addressed personal difficulties, including what made her finally decide to go public on the abusive relationship she experienced before she met husband Bill Gates.

"When you are controlled by somebody else you lose your voice," she said. "I completely lost my voice for years."

Mrs Gates' position as co-chair of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which was founded at the turn of the millennium, and leading roles advising the United Nations and G7 means she now has the ear of some of the world's leading political and business leaders.

Bill Gates and Melinda Gates speak at one of their foundation's Goalkeepers event. Credit: PA

A report by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has outlined five key areas for the G7 to support expanded financial inclusion, specifically amongst women across the African continent where entrenched gender gaps remain unchanged for a decade.

On Wednesday, more than $116 million (£93 million) was pledged by the UK, France and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a day before France's G7 Presidency will call for other G7 countries to help raise the estimated $255 million (£205 million) required to fund the initiatives set out in the report delivered by Mrs Gates.

The computer science graduate, whose father was an aerospace engineer, believes changes in technology and business models provide an opportunity for a "radical redesign" to create a modernised workforce defined by equality and inclusion.

She wants to see a major reboot in the tech talent pool to achieve what she has defined as a "democratisation of innovation".

Though the author of The Moment of Lift said she accepts the changes she is calling for may not be seen in her lifetime.

"I know I’ll live out my days working on these issues but progress is being made," she told Julie, as she opened up about her most emotionally wrenching encounters with extreme poverty.

On the heartbreaking moment an Indian women asked her, in desperation, to take away her child as she had no hope, she said: "I could hardly speak ... I was devastated. I cried in my room.

"To think what it would be like to give your child away. And I've held my beautiful three babies in my arms. No woman wants to be in that situation and that's why we have to keep fighting."

Mrs Gates said she remains "very conscious" of the danger of the "white saviour" role as a wealthy outsider heading to impoverished nations, and shares with Julie the advice former US president Jimmy Carter had given her to reconcile that concern.

Melinda Gates has championed global access to contraceptives are one of the greatest antipoverty innovations. Credit: ITV News

So can we anticipate her own future tilt at the White House?

Though she emphatically rules that out - saying "my job isn’t to stick it to people, my job is to help lift up people everywhere" - Mrs Gates said she was optimistic and heartened by the "droves" of women running for office, keen to change her nation.

"Sometimes you have not good things happen in the world but then you have to look at what comes behind that," she said.

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