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March 09, 2016

Opinion: What Melinda Gates Gets Wrong About Gender Equity

Melinda Gates and other wealthy "philanthrocapitalists" who focus on gender-based economic equality correctly diagnose the problem but prescribe the wrong cures, focusing on technology and private-sector solutions rather than policy fixes, a Quartz writer argues.

Moira Weigel cites Bill and Melinda Gates's annual letter on philanthropy, in which Ms. Gates highlighted the economic disadvantages women face because they perform the vast majority of unpaid household and child-care labor. In subsequent media interviews, Ms. Gates offered ideas such as providing cellphones as a way to empower women in the developing world.

Such thinking points up "the central blind spot of the brand of feminism endorsed by the philanthrocapitalist class," Ms. Weigel writes. "In focusing on private and technological solutions as the only ways to address social problems, they ignore the policy changes that are necessary to correct gendered inequality," such as paid maternity leave and state-subsidized health care.