Melinda Gates, Mackenzie Bezos team up for $30M gender equality contest

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Two of the world's richest women, Melinda Gates and Mackenzie Bezos, have announced a $30 million competition to encourage creative solutions for challenges women face including sexual harassment, caregiving and racial discrimination.

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"The entrenched inequalities that divide America — race, gender, class — will not go away without systems-wide change,” Gates said in a statement. “This Challenge is seeking bold ideas to dismantle the status quo and expand power and influence for women of all backgrounds."

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Through Gates' company Pivotal Ventures, the "Equality Can't Wait Challenge" will award at least two grants of $10 million or more to "the most compelling proposals" in the summer of 2021. The challenge will divide up an additional $10 million among finalists.

In this Feb. 1, 2018, file photo, Melinda Gates poses for a photo before an interview in Kirkland, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

The challenge will be managed by Lever for Change, which is involved in similar funding competitions and is connected to both the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation.

Gates and her husband, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, are worth more than $100 billion. Bezos is worth more than $50 billion after her split from long-time husband and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, according to Forbes.

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“Closing the gap on gender equality will benefit everyone. History keeps teaching us that when a diversity of voices is represented in decisions, the outcome is better for all,” Mackenzie Bezos said in a statement. “I’m excited that the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge will focus energy and innovation on this vital catalyst for positive change.”

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