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The development field needs to be more serious about gender inequities and women’s empowerment. By ignoring gender inequities, many development projects fail to achieve their objective. And when development organizations do not focus on women’s empowerment, they neglect the fact that empowered women have the potential to transform their societies. I also review the Gates Foundation’s record on gender and propose some approaches to improve it.
I have formal training in computer science and business—not in international development. But in the decade and a half since my husband and I created the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, I have received a practical education in the field. Given our backgrounds in the computer industry, we started with a bias toward technological solutions. Our optimism about technology has not changed, but we have gradually gained a greater appreciation for the social and cultural factors that influence how individuals, communities, and countries develop./.../