Melinda Gates is a businesswoman, philanthropist, and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. According to the foundation, “all lives have equal value.” Melinda Gates believes that men and women deserved to be treated equally, and all women deserve fair and equal opportunities for success.
These beliefs were deeply instilled in her children. As her son Rory Gates turned 18 years old on May 23, 2017, she reminisced on a time when he was a baby, and she wondered what he would be like as a grown man. In a letter she wrote to Motto, a publication from the editors of Time, she revealed that who he is 18 years later makes her a proud mother.
“Rory is compassionate and curious. He’s intelligent and well-read and deeply informed about the wide range of issues that interest him…But one of the things that makes me proudest is that Rory is a feminist,” she wrote. Rory believes that all men should combat inequality and stand for fairness throughout society.
Growing up, Melinda’s parents did not necessarily teach her and her siblings about the struggle for gender equality. They taught her that she and her sister could be anything they wanted to be and that their gender could not prevent them from living out their dreams. However, though they promoted her dreams, they did not talk with her about the obstacles she would face as a woman on her way to achieving them.
“They were more focused on giving us the confidence to fly than discussing the barriers that might hold us back. Sure, I knew that women faced challenges that men didn’t, but I hadn’t spent much time reflecting on the less overt ways that cultural norms and gendered expectations shape our lives,” Melinda wrote.
So by the time Melinda started her own family, she was sure to remind them of the ways these gender norms endangered females and society at large. Like her parents, she raised her children to believe they could be anything they wanted to be regardless of their gender.
But she and Bill did not stop there. “We also decided over time that, for the sake of our son as well as our daughters, we were going to be a family that readily talks about gender equality at the dinner table,” she wrote.
After 18 years of reminding Rory that he could be anything he wanted to be as a young man and discussing gender inequality in the world around him, Melinda is astounded by the young man he grew up to be. “Across 18 years of conversations, sharp observations and everyday actions, he’s demonstrated his belief that gender equality is something worth standing up for.”
Moreover, Melinda is proud of the society growing around her. She has seen and fostered hope for the future of gender equality as she has watched Rory and his friends, who also have a lot to say about gender equality, and the many other young men in protest of the patriarchal system fight for a world that supports equality for future generations.
Featured Image by DFID – UK Department for International Development on Flickr
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