Melinda French Gates calls out 'great problem' of DC politics: 'There are too many men with seats of power still'
- Melinda French Gates is calling out the lack of comprehensive paid family medical leave in the US.
- Electing more women and people of color would help fix this, she told Fortune, saying, "There are too many men with seats of power still on Capitol Hill in the United States."
Melinda French Gates knows the US lags behind other countries in paid family medical leave, and she says electing more women and people of color would help close that gap.
"We are the only industrialized country that doesn't have a robust paid family medical leave policy, and that just shouldn't be," the billionaire philanthropist said in an interview with Fortune this week. "But you have to be frank: There are too many men with seats of power still on Capitol Hill in the United States."
Though there's a record number of women in the 117th Congress, they still make up just 28% of it, according to a report from the Congressional Research Service. And though this Congress is the most racially and ethnically diverse in history, people of color make up roughly 25% of the Senate and House of Representatives, holding 136 of the 535 seats according to the report.
Earlier this week, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the charitable organization she runs with her ex-husband and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, published a report finding the world won't achieve gender equality until at least 2108, three generations behind previous projections.
"A lot of times, we think we think we're going to get there on gender equality—that we might move the needle a little bit," French Gates told Fortune. When it comes to female representation in government, "We kick up a percentage point or two, and we think, 'Okay, we're on our way to empowerment.'"
French Gates pointed out the disparity in funding between female and male political candidates.
"We don't finance women's campaigns the way we finance men's," she said in the interview. "That's a great problem."
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