The World Food Prize Foundation

2021 Borlaug Dialogue Speakers

Anita Zaidi

President, Gender Equality Division, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Anita Zaidi is the president of the foundation’s Gender Equality Division. In this role, Anita oversees the foundation’s efforts to achieve gender equality by integrating gender across the foundation’s global work and investing in women’s economic empowerment, women’s leadership, and removing the barriers for women and girls to thrive. The mission of the Gender Equality Division is a world in which women and girls have equal opportunity.

Anita also serves as the foundation’s director of the Vaccine Development, Surveillance, and Enteric and Diarrheal Diseases programs. Since joining the foundation in 2014, she has led a team focused on vaccine development for people in the poorest parts of the world, surveillance to identify and address causes of death in children in the most under-served areas, and significantly reducing the adverse consequences of diarrheal and enteric infections on children’s health in low and middle-income countries. Through this role, Anita champions innovative work on behalf of low-income women and children, including the creation of the Women Leaders in Global Health program—now called WomenLift Health—to promote diversity in global health leadership. She also works closely with the foundation’s Maternal Newborn Child Health Discovery & Tools program.

Previously, Anita was the department chair of Pediatrics and Child Health at the Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan, where she worked to reduce child mortality through the prevention and treatment of illness. She obtained her medical degree specializing in pediatric infectious diseases at Aga Khan University, and completed further trainings at Duke University, Boston’s Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and the Harvard School of Public Health. To date, 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 bringing health services and wraparound care to mothers and children in poverty-stricken communities in Karachi. She was also nominated as a notable physician of the year in 2014 by Medscape.

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