Melinda Gates has pledged $1 billion to promote gender equality in the United States.
In an article published in Time Wednesday, Gates wrote, “It’s frustrating — even heartbreaking — to confront evidence of the many ways our country continues to hold women back.”
Gender equality has long been an issue of interest for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Pivotal Ventures, the investment and incubation company she founded in 2015.
“For most of our history, women’s absence from positions of power and influence wasn’t newsworthy; it was normal,” she wrote. “The fact we’re now talking about these inequities is itself a sign of progress.”
She said Pivotal Ventures will use the money to work with organizations and policymakers to achieve three targets: breaking down barriers women face on the job, helping women move up faster in leadership positions and holding companies accountable for fostering gender equality. The goal is to make a significant impact within 10 years.
Gates wrote that in 2018, “there were more men named James running Fortune 500 companies than there were women. This year, only one CEO on that list of 500 is a woman of color.”
She said her reaction to facts like that “is a complicated mix of outrage and optimism.”
Gates hopes her commitment will push others into action.
“$1 billion is a lot of money, but I also recognize that it’s only a small fraction of what’s necessary,” she wrote. “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.”