“The world has been fighting for gender equality for decades, but progress has been slow,” Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, said in a statement. “Now is the chance to reignite a movement and deliver real change.”
The announcement was made on the first day of the Generation Equality Forum, which focuses on woman’s empowerment. The forum, which is being held in Paris, is taking place at a “critical inflection point,” the Gates Foundation said, because “nowhere on earth are women on equal footing with men.”
The money will be dispersed over the next five years and focus on three areas, including $650 for economic empowerment, $1.4 billion for health and family planning, and $100 million for accelerating women into leadership positions.
“Prioritizing gender equality is not only the right thing to do, it is essential to fighting poverty and preventable disease,” Bill Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, said in the statement.
The massive donation comes just a few weeks after the powerful couple announced their divorce following 27 years of marriage. Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and one of the richest people on Earth, announced last week that he was stepping down from the foundation’s board.
The Gates founded their philanthropic organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in 2000. Since then, the foundation has spent $53.8 billion on a wide range of initiatives related to global health, poverty alleviation and more, according to its website.
The foundation announced shortly after the divorce that “no changes to their roles or the organization are planned.”