Melinda Gates: Here’s Why I’m Committing $1 Billion to Promote Gender Equality

Gates is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, founder of Pivotal Ventures, and best-selling author of The Moment of Lift.

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. Women are 51 percent of the population but hold only 24 percent of the seats in Congress.

My reaction to facts like these is a complicated mix of outrage and optimism. I imagine I’m not alone. It’s frustrating—even heartbreaking—to confront evidence of the many ways our country continues to hold women back.

Then again, for most of our history, women’s absence from positions of power and influence wasn’t newsworthy; it was normal. The fact we’re now talking about these inequities is itself a sign of progress.

A window of opportunity has opened. Or, more accurately, it was painstakingly pried open by the hundreds of thousands of people who have joined marches across the country, the millions of women who summoned the courage to tell their #MeToo stories, the record number of women who ran for office in 2018 and won— and by the women who are working multiple jobs, caring for multiple loved ones, and proving you don’t have to protest or enter politics to challenge a system stacked against you. It wasn’t just grand gestures that got us here. It was daily acts of courage, too.

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