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Gates Foundation commits $2.1b to advance gender equality globally

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Gender inequality. Photo: PEXELS


The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) has announced a commitment of $2.1 billion over the next five years to advance women’s economic empowerment, strengthen women and girls’ health and family planning, and accelerate women’s leadership.

This came as a new data released by French Gates showed that COVID-19 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.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) said that unemployment for women rose by 9 million in 2020 compared to 2019 and is projected to increase by another 2 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 at 13 million below its 2019 level. By contrast, total male employment is expected to return close to its 2019 level, exacerbating existing inequalities in the workforce.

The Foundation disclosed this at the Generation Equality Forum convened by UN Women and co-hosted by the governments of Mexico and France, which is bringing together governments, the private sector, and civil society partners to commit to specific actions and announce financial, political, and programmatic commitments that will accelerate gender equality and advance women’s rights.

BMGF revealed that out of the amount, the Foundation will invest $650 million over five years on the expansion of its existing work on women’s economic empowerment, to boost women’s empowerment collectives, strengthen the care economy, improve women’s financial inclusion, and reduce barriers to paid work.

According to BMGF, $1.4 billion will be spent over five years on family planning and women’s health, with a focus on increasing options and access to contraceptives and support for a network of family planning partners, including UNFPA Supplies Partnership, Family Planning 2030, and the Global Financing Facility.

Co-chair of the Gates Foundation, Bill Gates, said that gender equality must be at the center of the world’s efforts to make progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals.

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