The Current

Melinda Gates on the 'ingenuity' of women in the developing world

Melinda Gates stayed mostly silent for years as her husband, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, became the richest man in the world. Now, as co-founder of the foundation, Gates is a woman of influence empowering women and girls in the developing world.
Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is calling on governments like Canada to make helping women and girls in the developing world a key development priority. (Denis Balibouse/Reuters)

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On May 9, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada is increasing its commitment to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, to $785 million over the next three years.

Melinda Gates is pleased to hear Prime Minister Trudeau will commit $785 million over three years for the Global Fund - a 20 per cent increase in Canada's contributions. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

It's an announcement that Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, wanted to hear in person traveling from California to Ottawa. Gates has been using her position to call on governments like Canada to support women and girls in developing countries — a cause that she feels will have a profound impact on health and economic outcomes for communities. 

Years ago, when the Gates children were younger, Melinda Gates had a long drive to her eldest daughter's pre-school. 
She and her husband Bill talked about the frustrating commute and came up with a solution — he would drive their daughter two days a week. 

It was a small compromise for two parents sharing the duties of raising a young family, but when the father also happens to be one of the wealthiest men in the world, people noticed. 

Over the years, the philanthropic pair have used this story to highlight the problem of unpaid work for women and push for more equal sharing of household duties between parents.

This segment was produced by The Current's John Chipman.