In a special contribution to CNN, and in collaboration with the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship, Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes about the importance of International Women’s Day. Citing the history of the day, which began in 1911 across four European nations, Gates commends several contemporary women of note throughout the world, including Malala Yousafza and Sharmila Devi, for their courageous actions. With this piece for CNN, Gates announces the launch of her new project on Catapult.org, created to fund already-existing groups for women and girls.
Here is the reality we must confront on International Women’s Day: The decisions women make about their families are the key to improving life for many of the poorest communities in the world.
The evidence shows that in the developing world, women play a different role than men and are more likely to take care of their family’s health care and nutrition, things that children need to become productive adults and contribute to the economic and social development of societies.
In fact, research has shown that a child’s chances of survival increase by 20% when the mother controls the household budget. Yet in many places, women, especially young women, have very little decision-making authority to be able to effect this kind of change.
The work of making sure that women and girls everywhere can seize their potential is about making specific changes that will set into motion these longer term outcomes. For me, it means making sure they have access to the contraceptives so many women tell me they want and need. It’s also about harder to measure changes like whether they have the information and the power to plan their families on their own terms.
Read Gates’ post in its entirety at CNN.