The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged $20 million over the next three years to strengthen women's groups worldwide. While representing only a small portion of the foundation's $40 billion fortune, the decision to target grassroots efforts marks a deliberate shift in strategy. The foundation has historically focused on science to advance specific development goals, like improving maternity health. Movement building is entirely new.
Melinda Gates is a well-known champion for women and girls. She has worked to increase the number of women in tech and make birth control more accessible to women in the developing world. She believes that bolstering female activist networks can be more effective than donating to large government programs or aid initiatives. These women understand the needs of their community better than anyone else.
Part of the foundation's larger $80 million commitment to gather data on the issues preventing gender equality, these funds will go in part to researching the effectiveness of social movements on improving the lives of women and girls. Depending on the results, coupling these grants with data collection could lead to greater funding down the line. LEARN MORE