According to the World Economic Forum, it will take the U.S. 208 years to achieve gender equality. We must move faster. Equality can’t wait.
A record number of women serve in the U.S. Congress – but still make up less than 24% of its members.
As of May 2020, women made up only 7% of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies.
Women are still underrepresented. Women of color, women living in poverty, and LGBTQ women are faced with added challenges and barriers.
Moreover, COVID-19 is having an immediate and direct impact on women. History has taught us that periods of increased political and economic volatility, as well as health crises disproportionately affect women.
Two very powerful philanthropists, Melinda Gates and MacKenzie Bezos, are looking to speed things up and are giving $30 million to launch the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge to ensure “women of all backgrounds, especially women of color, can have an equal chance to make decisions, control resources, and shape polices and perspectives in the U.S.”
Gender equality has always been at the heart of the Gates Foundation’s work. Pivotal Ventures, Melinda Gates’ investment and incubation company, with additional support from MacKenzie Bezos and in partnership with Lever for Change, will provide grants to organizations or coalitions of organizations with the most compelling proposals of “innovative ideas that will bring additional capital and energy into one or more key areas that can expand women’s power and influence.”
Up to 10 participants with innovative ideas will be named as finalists and eligible for a one-time award of $100,000. Two grants of $10 million will be awarded, with another $10 million allocated among the finalists. Winners will be announced the summer of 2021.
The Challenge marks one step forward in creating a more equitable society. Gender equality can no longer be discussed. Action must be taken, and change must be made.
By encouraging women, transforming the way women participate in economies, and eliminating barriers that women — especially of color — face, we can expand opportunities and for all and grow the global economy.