In an opinion piece penned for Time.com, Gates said she regularly lost sleep over the myriad crises impacting women and fears that Americans would grow apathetic to these issues despite recent social momentum.
“There is no reason to believe this moment will last forever,” said Gates, founder of investment and incubation company Pivotal Ventures, and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“I want to see more women in the position to make decisions, control resources, and shape policies and perspectives,” she wrote. “I believe that women’s potential is worth investing in—and the people and organizations working to improve women’s lives are, too.
She noted that although a “window of opportunity” had been opened by the thousands of women joining marches, millions who had shared their #MeToo stories and record numbers of women running for office in 2018, the situation and the motivation for change was still precarious.
“Too many people – women and men – have worked too hard to get us this far,” she added. “There are too many possible solutions we haven’t tried yet.”
As such, Pivotal Ventures will fund organisations who pursue innovative approaches to furthering equality and propelling women in underrepresented sectors like technology, media and government over the next decade.
Part of the funding will also go towards mobilising shareholders, consumers and employees to pressure companies into reform.
“Here’s what keeps me up at night: I imagine waking up one morning to find that the country has moved on,” said Gates. “That the media has stopped reporting on systemic inequalities.
“That diversity remains something companies talk about instead of prioritizing. That all of this energy and attention has amounted to a temporary swell, instead of a sea change.”
“$1 billion is a lot of money, but I also recognize that it’s only a small fraction of what’s necessary. That’s why I hope the financial commitment I’m making today is seen as both a vote of confidence in the experts and advocates who are already working on these issues—and an invitation for others to join the cause and make commitments of their own. Equality can’t wait, and no one in a position to act should either.”