In an October 2nd Time article, Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said she’s committing $1 billion toward the fight for gender equality. Having witnessed the rise of the #MeToo movement, as well as public outrage at the lack of women CEOs heading Fortune 500 companies, Gates has decided to put a horse in the race to ensure the momentum toward gender equality doesn’t stall.
“Here’s what keeps me up at night: I imagine waking up one morning to find that the country has moved on,” Gates writes. “That the media has stopped reporting on systemic inequalities. That diversity remains something companies talk about instead of prioritizing. That all of this energy and attention has amounted to a temporary swell instead of a sea change.”
And that’s not just a blanket statement. Gates has a plan — and more specifically, she has three crucial priorities in mind.
I want to see more women making decisions, controlling resources, & shaping policies. That’s why I’m committing $1B over the next 10 years to expanding women’s power & influence in the U.S. #EqualityCantWait, & no one in a position to act should either. https://t.co/Rh6SkRH0ma— Melinda Gates (@melindagates) October 2, 2019
“My company, Pivotal Ventures, will put resources behind new and established partners taking innovative and diverse approaches to expanding women’s power and influence,” she states in her Time article. Under Pivotal Ventures, Gates will focus on three specific goals — the first being “dismantling the barriers to women’s professional advancement.”
Gates plans to financially support entrepreneurs working on market-based caregiving solutions, as well as advocacy groups fighting for better policies and protections for women in the workplace.
In 2018, there were more men named James running Fortune 500 companies than there were women.— Anish Chaurasiya (@MrcuteAnish) October 2, 2019
This year, only one CEO on that list of 500 is a woman of color.
Women are 51 percent of the population but hold only 24 percent of the seats in Congress.
Secondly, Gates wants to prioritize fast-tracking women in business ventures with large impact on our society, “like technology, media, and public office,” she writes. “We need to create new pathways into these industries that will open more entry points for women from all backgrounds.”
Finally, Gates will mobilize shareholders, consumers, and employees to “amplify external pressure on companies and organizations in need of reform.” By funding groups that collect data on the lives of women (especially women of color), Gates hopes to use accurate statistics to drive this mobilization.
Although Gates realizes that we have a right to be angry at the current situation, she says that we should also be optimistic about the future. Thanks to the #MeToo movement, we’ve seen what can happen when we pull together than fight for change. Together, with Gates included, gender equality is absolutely within our grasp.