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Melinda Gates

Melinda Gates, whose book this year documented the systemic and societal challenges that continue to face women around the world, this morning pledged $1 billion over the next 10 years to initiatives designed to accelerate gender equity in the United States.

In a commentary announcing the plan on Time.com, Gates said the money will support “new and established partners taking innovative and diverse approaches to expanding women’s power and influence.”

It’s the biggest initiative yet from Gates through her standalone Pivotal Ventures firm, separate from her role as co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Melinda Gates established Pivotal Ventures four years ago to focus on issues including gender equality and empowering women. Her book, “The Moment of Lift,” documented the need to remove barriers for women, with the goal of helping not just women but society as a whole.

In the announcement this morning, Gates cited three priorities for the funds: 1) “dismantling the barriers to women’s professional advancement;” 2) “fast-tracking women in sectors with outsized impact on our society—like technology, media, and public office; and 3) “mobilizing shareholders, consumers, and employees to amplify external pressure on companies and organizations in need of reform.”

She wrote, “I want to see more women in the position to make decisions, control resources, and shape policies and perspectives. I believe that women’s potential is worth investing in—and the people and organizations working to improve women’s lives are, too.”

Gates gave more insights into her approach in a Harvard Business Review piece last month, “Gender Equality Is Within Our Reach.

I believe our goal should be to expand women’s power and influence in society. I think of power and influence as the ability to make decisions, control resources, and shape perspectives. It is something women exercise in their homes, in their workplaces, and in their communities. I recognize that “power and influence” are not words we have historically associated with women — nor are they words that all women associate with themselves. I also acknowledge that because of my family’s wealth, I have access to certain kinds of power and influence that very few people do. Still, I use these words, imperfect and imprecise though they are, because they are the best way I know to describe what men in this country — in particular, white men — have long had that women have not.

A Pivotal Ventures representative says the firm will make both investments and philanthropic grants with the $1 billion in funds over the next decade.

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