One of the most outspoken advocates I know for women and girls is actually a man. As co-founder of the ONE Campaign, my friend Bono spends a lot of time speaking out against global poverty. Together, we’re working to get out a simple, powerful message: poverty is sexist.
Women and girls are more likely to be impoverished, less likely to get an education and more likely to suffer bad health. And when they’re born into poverty, it’s much more difficult for them to lift themselves and their families out of it.
Why? One reason is that breaking out of poverty takes time–and that’s a resource women around the world are short on. On average, women spend about twice as much time as men doing the unpaid work that makes life possible for everyone, like cooking, cleaning and caring. In developing countries, the gap is even bigger. As a result, women have no time to finish their education, learn new skills, open a business or even go to the doctor. They dream of creating a better future for their children, but they can’t spare the hours to put those dreams into action.
The fact that the potential of so many women is going unrealized is a tragedy–but it’s also an opportunity. We need to recognize, reduce and redistribute the burden of work that’s holding them back. Because if women had time to invest in themselves and their ideas, they could transform the world.
Gates is a businesswoman, philanthropist and co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
This appears in the March 28, 2016 issue of TIME.
- Exclusive: The Making of the U.S. Military's New Stealth Bomber
- Your Next House Could Be Made on an Assembly Line
- The Legal Implications of the Debate Over Whether 'Extreme Racism' Is a Mental Illness
- Why European Countries Are Giving Teens Free Money To Spend on Books, Music, and Theater
- Republican Skepticism of Trump Has Never Been Higher
- Column: The U.S. Prison System Doesn't Value True Justice
- How Green Is the Qatar World Cup’s Outdoor AC?
- 16 Funny and Whimsical White Elephant Gifts Under $25
- The 5 Best New TV Shows Our Critic Watched in November 2022