Melinda Gates

Last week’s announcement from Melinda Gates that over the next 10 years she will be committing $1 billion to promote gender equality is one of those game-changing moments that activists dream about. Finally, a big bet on WOMEN!

Back in 1997, Ted Turner made a similar big bet, giving $1 billion to create the UN Foundation. At the time, he also advocated banning men from public office. “Men should be barred from public office for 100 years in every part of the world…The men have had millions of years where we’ve been running things. We’ve screwed it up hopelessly. Let’s give it to the women.” We don’t have 100 years to have equality given to us. Equality can’t wait!

So writes Melinda Gates in TIME, sharing that her decision to commit $1 billion was based on a mixture of outrage, optimism and well, impatience.

She’s outraged that in 2018, “there were more men named James running Fortune 500 companies than there were women. This year, only one CEO on that list of 500 is a woman of color. Women are 51 percent of the population but hold only 24 percent of the seats in Congress.”

She’s optimistic that this is the right moment for rapid change because of the groundswell of the women’s marches, the #MeToo movement and the record number of women running for office around the country in 2018 and 2020.

I share her optimism and belief. In my new book out this week, Becoming a Dangerous Woman, I deliver a call to action for all women and our allies to be braver, bolder, to embrace more risks and become more impatient. Equality can’t wait and we can’t play our part from the sidelines.

Pat Mitchell at Omega Institute

One of the ways I play my part is participating in women’s gatherings, and this past weekend at the Omega Institute’s Women & Power conference, themed “Gathering Our Strength,” I had the privilege of listening to and speaking with hundreds of women who have committed to #DoPowerDifferently, one of the themes of this year’s gathering.

I shared the stage with the inspiring duo, T. Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison, founders of GirlTrek; Tarana Burke, leader of #MeToo; writer Roxane Gay, and other dangerous women committed to the work of shaping a world where women are equal, safe, free and heard.

T. Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison, founders of GirlTrek

Throughout the weekend on the beautiful Omega campus, drawing strength from the curriculum of the Omega Women’s Leadership Institute and from one other, I believe — and new research supports this — that we return to our lives better prepared to step into our power, use it and share it.

Feminist Press ED and Publisher Jamia Wilson and writer Roxane Gay at Omega Institute. (Credit: Twitter)
Feminist Press ED and Publisher Jamia Wilson and writer Roxane Gay at Omega Institute. (Credit: Twitter)

I witness this every year at the many women’s gatherings I attend, including TEDWomen (Dec. 4-6, 2019), which I’m privileged to have helped create and continue to co-curate and host. Many of the speakers this weekend at Omega have given their own TED talks there. It’s a privilege I have to offer that platform each year to women with transformative ideas and it’s a shared responsibility, in my opinion, for all of us to show up for one another whenever and however we can —in every room where equality can be advanced. It is in those rooms together that we do, in fact, gather our strengthen, connect our experiences, share our learnings, problem solve and explore the ways we can use our power, individually and collectively, to advance equality.

#EqualityCantWait, declared Melinda Gates, as she put her very significant resources forward today, challenging all of us, at every gathering and with every opportunity, to elevate, activate, motivate and gather our strength, individually and collectively as a global sisterhood, for the often dangerous but absolutely necessary work to move towards true equality in every aspect of our lives and work — not for ourselves alone.

No one can be left out or behind if true equality is the goal and it must be… Now!

With gratitude to Melinda and to all my sisters who commit their talents, ideas, time and resources — sometimes at great risk — and are stepping up and showing up for each other in altogether new and transformative ways,



  • Pat Mitchell is a lifelong advocate for women and girls. At every step of her career, Mitchell has broken new ground for women, leveraging the power of media as a journalist, an Emmy award-winning and Oscar-nominated producer to tell women’s stories and increase the representation of women onscreen and off. Transitioning to an executive role, she became the president of CNN Productions, and the first woman president and CEO of PBS and the Paley Center for Media. Today, her commitment to connect and strengthen a global community of women leaders continues as a conference curator, advisor and mentor. In partnership with TED, Mitchell launched TEDWomen in 2010 and is its editorial director, curator and host. She is also a speaker and curator for the annual Women Working for the World forum in Bogota, Colombia, the Her Village conference in Beijing, and the Women of the World (WOW) festival in London. In 2017, she launched the Transformational Change Leadership Initiative with the Rockefeller Foundation focused on women leaders in government and civil society. In 2014, the Women’s Media Center honored Mitchell with its first-annual Lifetime Achievement Award, now named in her honor to commend other women whose media careers advance the representation of women. Recognized by Hollywood Reporter as one of the most powerful women in media, Fast Company’s “League of Extraordinary Women” and Huffington Post’s list of “Powerful Women Over 50,” Mitchell also received the Sandra Day O'Connor Award for Leadership. She is a contributor to Enlightened Power: How Women Are Transforming the Practice of Leadership, and wrote the introduction to the recently published book and museum exhibition, 130 Women of Impact in 30 Countries. In 2016, she served as a congressional appointment to The American Museum of Women’s History Advisory Council. She is writing a memoir, Becoming a Dangerous Woman: Embracing a Life of Power and Purpose, that will be published in 2019. Mitchell is active with many nonprofit organizations, serving as the chair of the boards of the Sundance Institute and the Women’s Media Center. She is a founding member of the VDAY movement and on the boards of the Skoll Foundation and the Acumen Fund. She is also an advisor to Participant Media and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Mitchell is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Georgia and holds a master's degree in English literature and several honorary doctorate degrees. She and her husband, Scott Seydel, live in Atlanta and have six children and 13 grandchildren.