Gates Foundation: Empowering women is key to fighting poverty
In 2006, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet donated $31 billion in company stock to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. As a way of outlining just what the Gates family did with the “single biggest gift anyone ever gave anybody for anything,” the couple have penned a lengthy report. The big takeaway is that the most impact will come from social change — not tech. Considering where Bill Gates worked, that might surprise you.
Specifically, the couple highlighted access to immunizations and empowering women to take control of their sexuality via contraceptivesand support groups as the keys to improving our world. “Limiting women’s power keeps everyone poor,” Melinda says.
Bill and his wife also have a keen interest in keeping child mortality rates on their downward trend. Melinda writes that it’s the bedrock of the Foundation and that “virtually all” of society’s advances (including economic growth, gender equity and access to contraceptives) are reflected in child mortality rate.
“If parents believe that their children will survive — and if they have the power to time and space their pregnancies — they choose to have fewer children,” Melinda writes. Some 300 million women in developing countries use “modern contraceptives,” a benchmark that Melinda says took 13 years to reach compared to a previous figure of 200 million, a number she says took decades to hit.
Spacing pregnancies also leads to mothers becoming more educated and have healthier kids in general. “Contraceptives are also one of the greatest antipoverty innovations in history,” she says. This cascades into more countries being able to pull themselves out of debt because parents can devote more time and resources to keeping their kids smart and healthy.
Women in developing countries who can space their births by at least three years have babies statistically twice as likely to hit their first birthday, too. Access to contraceptives also has a direct effect on those seeking government assistance as well. When people have fewer kids, there’s less need for financial help to raise them, which in turn decreases things like welfare dependencies.READ MORE