It's seven in the evening in Madrid, nine in the morning in the United States, when I start talking to Melinda Gates (born in Texas, 1964) over the phone. She is at home in Seattle with her family, and right now she is looking out the window at the garden. A computer engineer, entrepreneur, mother of three and passionate feminist, she is one of the most influential women on the plonet; a surprisingly intimate and spontaneous person, she is very erithusiastic and one hundred percent committed to what she believes in. For about 20 years, she and her husband (Bill Gates) have run the foundation that bears their name, the largest, most powerful and generous charity in global health and education on an international scale. An organisation that, a few days ago, decided to allocate 250 milion dollars to confront Covid-19 and to find a vaccine against the coronavirus on one condition only: that the result be accessible to all, not just to rich countries. Melinda is beyond serious, she wants to really change the world and she is convinced that the key lies in remembering that no life is worth more than another, and she is especially for promoting women's leadership. «When we take off, the whole of society takes off,» she says. Throughout our conversation, we addressed everything from solidarity to education and we even talked about ELLE's action in support of the Food Banks, an initiative she warmly applauds.
ELLE: Do you think we will use this crisis to rebuild, rethink and recreate a better world? More caring, more empathetic, more human, more fair…?
MELINDA GATES: Yes, and for that we need more women in leadership positions and a greater diversity of voices in decision-making. Through this experience, three truths have come to the forefront that were there but didn't seem to be a priority: that women take on almost all the tasks related to care, that they are in the majority among heath workers, and that domestic violence is still present. Let us assume these realities and focus on managing them correctly. Then we can change things.
ELLE: Countries with women at the head, such as Germany and New Zealand, have responded more effectively to the pandemic. Do women make a difference in governing?
MG: Women know that people deserve to be treated with kindness and that we need solutions that are valid for society as a whole. We must ensure that everyone can take care of their loved ones and that doing so is compatible with doing productive work. It is a perspective that we carry more inwardly because we have traditionally assumed the two great tasks: caring and working. Women are the ones at home with their children, the ones who give them affection and, at the same time, push them to be independent; they are the ones who make sure they complete their homework and are respectful at school. That is what we see in today's leaders, they think about the needs of everyone.
ELLE: You insist that we will only defeat the crisis if we understand that it is a global struggle. How can we move forward?
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