As co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Melinda is an optimist. She spent 2019 espousing that 2020 was going to be a landmark year for gender equality. Her book The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World, argues that men usually set policy, but it’s women who drive progress.
However, the pandemic hit, and disasters always impact women disproportionately. Gender equality advocates braced for a catastrophic wave of shadow pandemics. Women and girls have borne the brunt of the pandemic, but they have also led the fight against it. Women leaders have proved their worth. Women who make up 70% percent of the world’s health workers. Essential workers—predominantly women—are keeping shelves stocked, families supplied, and children safely playing and learning. We’ve been looking for a breakthrough that heralds a new and more inclusive kind of policymaking.
COVID-19 has shown the failures of our social contract with new clarity, and the world is awake to this. Recent international surveys found that 90% of people want the post-pandemic world to be more sustainable and equitable, and for their economies to be more inclusive. Maybe COVID-19 will be the breakthrough moment.