Melinda Gates Pledges $1 Billion in Donations to Support Equality for Women
A pledge by Melinda Gates to spend $1 billion over the next decade to support women and girls and build a female power base in the United States is making news. The funds will be distributed in the form of grants distributed by the firm Pivotal Ventures which Gates started in 2015. Pivotal Ventures has already provided funds to create working groups focused on paid leave at both the American Enterprise and Brookings Institutions as well as provided funding for a program at Northeastern University designed to train women for tech careers.
Gates explained her vision for the fund in an article in Time magazine this way: “I want to see more women in the position to make decisions, control resources, and shape policies and perspectives.” She explained that she wants the fund to help dismantle gender inequality by focusing on three key areas: creating pathways for women to advance in careers that exert a significant influence on society, eliminating the barriers that keep women from advancing in the workplace, and spearheading efforts to reform the parts of corporate culture that hold women back.
Melinda Gates is also heavily involved in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which she runs with her husband and co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates. The couple ranks among the world’s richest with a combined net worth of $106 billion. To date, Bill and Melinda Gates have given away one-quarter of their wealth.
In addition to making a splash in the corporate world, the Melinda Gates’ $1 billion pledge is also important in philanthropic circles where donations to non-profit organizations focused on women lag far behind donations to other types of charitable groups. A 2016 study conducted by Indiana University’s Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) found that less than 2% of charitable donations in 2016 went to groups focused on helping women and girls.
Observers note that Melinda Gates’ pledge to donate $1 billion to groups supporting women could go a long way towards shifting those percentages. Societal shifts such as the “Me Too” movement which emerged after the 2016 WPI philanthropic study could also play a part in generating a surge of support for non-profit organizations designed to focus on female needs.