The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced a $2.1 billion investment to assist promote gender equality across the globe over the next five years at the UN Women Generation Equality Forum in Paris.
According to forum organizers, $40 billion in new investments benefiting women and girls were announced during the forum’s opening event on Wednesday, including a $2.1 billion commitment from the Gates Foundation, $420 million from the Ford Foundation, and an investment from the World Bank for gender equality programs in 12 African countries.
The Gates Foundation said in a statement on Wednesday that the pledge is intended “to advance women’s economic empowerment, strengthen women and girls’ health and family planning, and accelerate women’s leadership”.
“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,” Melinda French Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, said in the statement. “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.”
According to the Gates Foundation, the $2.1 billion commitment comprises $650 million for economic empowerment programs, $1.4 billion for family planning and health, and $100 million to promote women’s participation in leadership positions.
The Generation Equality Forum, hosted by the governments of France and Mexico, runs from Wednesday to Friday and is the first time in 25 years that advocates, governments, civil society organizations, and private-sector partners have come together to announce specific pledges and policy actions to advance the interests of women and girls around the world.
The United Nations’ Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Bejing in 1995 and attended by thousands of activists, was the most recent such meeting.
The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which has been approved by 189 nations and is still regarded as “the key global policy document on gender equality”, according to UN Women, and has been adopted by 189 countries.
The Generation Equality Forum, which is being conducted online owing to the current coronavirus epidemic, is anticipated to draw 40,000 people.
One of the forum’s keynote speakers is Melinda French Gates. Last month, she and her husband, Bill Gates, announced their divorce after 27 years of marriage.
In a joint statement issued to their separate Twitter accounts on May 3, Bill, the millionaire founder of Microsoft, and Melinda, a novelist, and the entrepreneur announced their divorce. They stated in it that they would “continue our work together at the foundation”, but no longer believe they could “grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives”.
Since announcing their split, both have continued to work with the $50 billion foundation, as well as other charitable causes to which they both donate.