Melinda Gates Commits $1 Billion to Promote U.S. Gender Equality

Melinda Gates Commits $1 Billion to Promote U.S. Gender Equality

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation co-chair Melinda Gates has announced a ten-year, $1 billion commitment to promote gender equality in the United States.

The commitment will support initiatives in three priority areas: dismantling barriers to women's professional advancement; fast-tracking women in sectors with outsized impact on society, including technology, media, and public office; and mobilizing shareholders, consumers, and employees to amplify external pressure on companies and organizations in need of reform. To that end, Gates's investment and incubation company, Pivotal Ventures, will support entrepreneurs working to develop market-based solutions for caregiving, a disproportionate share of which is borne by women; groups advocating for better policies and protections for women at work; and groups and individuals working to deliver breakthrough solutions at scale. The funds also will support efforts to create new entry points and pathways for women from all backgrounds, support their career advancement, and collect and analyze data on women — especially women of color — that can be used to mobilize policy reform efforts.

Writing in Time.com, Gates notes that gender equality in the U.S. has been chronically underfunded. Based on data from Candid, she notes, institutional grantmakers award $9.27 to higher education and $4.85 to the arts for every $1 they give in support of women's issues, with 90 cents of each of those dollars designated for reproductive health initiatives.

"I want to see more women in the position to make decisions, control resources, and shape policies and perspectives," writes Gates. "I believe that women's potential is worth investing in — and the people and organizations working to improve women's lives are, too.

"$1 billion is a lot of money, but I also recognize that it's only a small fraction of what's necessary. That's why I hope the financial commitment I'm making today is seen as both a vote of confidence in the experts and advocates who are already working on these issues — and an invitation for others to join the cause and make commitments of their own. Equality can't wait, and no one in a position to act should either."