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By Francesca Donner
23 August 2020
On March 7, 2020, Melinda Gates published an Op-Ed in The New York Times to mark International Women’s Day.
Today, she wrote, take a moment to start a conversation about gender equality, preferably with someone you’ve never discussed it with before. “It will take 208 years to close major gender gaps in the United States — but this should only take a few minutes.”
Broadly, we may think of gender inequality as the sweeping injustices levied against women and girls on a global scale — among them sex trafficking, domestic violence, child marriage, maternal mortality, inadequate reproductive care, a technological divide, and gaps in economics and education performance.
But for Ms. Gates, it seems personal too.
When she joined Microsoft in the late 1980s, the tech firm wasn’t exactly a paradise for female employees. Her decision to leave the work force to raise her daughter when she became a mother, while not one she regrets, now gives her pause. At the time, “I just assumed that’s what women do,” she wrote in her 2019 book, “The Moment of Lift.” “I had a lot of growing up to do.” And for a long time, even her work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she shares the title of co-chair with her husband, Bill Gates, wasn’t exactly equal, with Mr. Gates the de facto spokesperson in the public eye and Ms. Gates — by choice — behind the scenes.
So it’s no wonder that gender equality factors so prominently in her work and her words. And it’s certainly no different in a world transformed by a pandemic.
Read the full Q&A online here.