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Melinda Gates speaks about what can be done for women in the U.S. (Credit: UK Department for International Development, Flickr)

In an op-ed article published Monday in Time, Melinda Gates announced that she would be donating $1 billion dollars to help create a more gender-equal society.

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“I want to see more women in the position to make decisions, control resources, and shape policies and perspectives,” she wrote.  “I believe that women’s potential is worth investing in—and the people and organizations working to improve women’s lives are, too.”

Gates expressed frustration at how women in the U.S. continue to face barriers to professional advancement, in part because they shoulder caregiving responsibilities while also facing pervasive sexual harassment. In fact, The World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index estimates that the U.S. is 208 years away from gender equality.

Gates notes that a window of opportunity has opened for women. Their voices are asking for change through the #metoo movement, marches and campaigns for office.

But “here’s what keeps me up at night: I imagine waking up one morning to find that the country has moved on. That the media has stopped reporting on systemic inequalities. That diversity remains something companies talk about instead of prioritizing,” Gates writes.

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Before this window of opportunity closes, she believes that we must act — which is why she has committed $1 billion over the next 10 years to expanding women’s power and influence in the U.S.

Gates says her investment company Pivotal Ventures plans to focus on three distinct areas: dismantling barriers to women’s professional advancement; fast-tracking women in sectors with a big impact on society; and mobilizing shareholders, consumers and employees to amplify external pressure on companies and organizations in need of reform.

Gates says she realizes that $1 billion dollars, while a lot of money, is only a small fraction of what needs to be committed to implement change. And she hopes her donation inspires others to become a part of the movement.

“Americans are no longer willing to accept the glacial pace of change—and I feel lucky to be alive at a time when we no longer have to.”

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