Melinda Gates: the ‘Shadow Pandemic’ of violence against women

By Nicholas Norbrook
Posted on Friday, 24 July 2020 10:24

Moved to action by what the UN calls a 'shadow pandemic' of violence against women during Coronavirus lockdowns, the co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has been speaking out.

While South Africa has taken the lead, with President Cyril Ramaphosa condemning a “surge in murders of women and children” seen under the phase 3 lockdown in the country, many others have been silent.

For Gates, the choice is clear; vulnerability or empowerment. And what delivers power? Wealth.

That’s why the participation of women in the workforce is transformative, and has been seen again and again in countries around the world.

But the coronavirus is likely to hit the jobs that women have hardest – partly because they are often in the informal sector.

READ MORE Coronavirus: Ensure women’s equality, ensure strong economies

“Bringing down the price for mobile internet access and use will really help women”, says Gates. “If a women has access to a bank account, if she can save $1-2 every month, she has power, and she is more able to enter the formal sector”.

She also tackles criticism of the focus on birth control, with some on the continent fearing the birth of a new eugenics.

“We have to learn from history. There was a time, not that long ago, when a group of countries had the idea that from the top down we should have less population”, says Gates. “That is the wrong way to go around contraceptives. We need to educate girls and women about their bodies, and let them choose whether they want to have children, and when they want to have children”

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