Post-divorce, Bill Gates & Melinda French commit $2.1bn to gender equality

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Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates have continued their work at the Gates Foundation, by committing $2.1 billion to advance gender equality across the world over the next five years.

The fund is aimed at driving economic empowerment, family planning and health, and getting more women into positions of leadership.

In the first major post-divorce move, Melinda, who now identifies as Melinda French Gates, and Bill Gates are working together to drive equality across the globe.

The Gates announced their divorce in May 2021 but said they’ll still work together at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

In their first major joint announcement since the divorce process became public, the two have their eyes on gender equality.

“The world has been fighting for gender equality for decades, but progress has been slow. Now is the chance to reignite a movement and deliver real change,” French Gates said.

“The beauty of our fight for gender equality is that every human being will gain from it. We must seize this moment to build a better, more equal future.”

Bill Gates said gender equality must be at the center of the world’s efforts to make progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Prioritizing gender equality is not only the right thing to do, it is essential to fighting poverty and preventable disease,” Gates said.

“The Generation Equality Forum is an opportunity to hold leaders accountable so that we can ensure that all people, everywhere, have the opportunity to live healthy, productive lives.”

ECONOMIC ‘SHECESSION’ HAS MORE WOMEN LOSING JOBS

The recovery is sexist

Last year, the word “shecession” was coined to describe what was happening to the global economy, French Gates wrote, adding that women were nearly twice as likely as men to lose their jobs.

“Now, new data from the International Labor Organization (ILO) show that, based on current trends, the recovery is sexist, too,” she added.

Unemployment for women rose by 9 million in 2020 compared to 2019 and is projected to increase by another two million in 2021. This pattern is not true for men, who are projected to see unemployment decrease in 2021.

Total global female employment in 2021 is expected to remain 13 million below its 2019 level.

“Men as a group have already regained all the jobs they lost, but women are still losing theirs. In fact, 2 million more women are expected to leave the workforce this year, adding to the 13 million in 2020,” French Gates wrote.

On Wednesday, the Gates Foundation also released new data that show pandemic-driven inequality is growing at an alarming pace, driven by disruptions to women’s health services, job losses in sectors where women are overrepresented, and a sharp increase in caregiving needs and other unpaid work.

“Ripple effects of the pandemic have conspired to rob women and girls of opportunity,” French Gates, added.

The announcement is part of the Generation Equality Forum convened by UN Women and co-hosted by the governments of Mexico and France.

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