Although more men are dying from COVID-19, women are suffering from a “shadow pandemic” economically by shouldering the burden of caregiving and other unpaid jobs, global philanthropist Melinda Gates said at the 2020 (all-virtual) Texas Conference for Women.
“The key infrastructure in this society that needs to be built back properly is this unpaid labor, this caregiving work that women so often do,” Gates said during a sweeping conversation with media executive and TEDWomen co-founder Pat Mitchell. “If we can build that system back in a way that really supports families, and supports jobs and capitalism, then we are going to be better off as a society in the next decade and the next 50 decades ahead.”
Gates, who grew up in Texas, is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and an advocate for women and girls who last year announced a $1 billion commitment to expand women‟s power and influence in the United States. She has recently been outspoken about COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on women—and the importance of addressing systemic racism.
More than 10,000 people (including Girls That Create) participated in the 21st annual Conference. Gates joined actor Issa Rae and National Book Award winner Elizabeth Acevedo to headline the day themed “Leading the Way Forward.”
Rae, an acclaimed producer, actress and writer, called it vital for women to surround themselves with a supportive community.
“I have to foster a community of women who support one another,” Rae said. “I think that is so essential because we are constantly pitted against one another and underestimated and I think there is nothing more valuable than a support group of women who understand.”
Rae created and stars in the hit HBO show Insecure, for which she received an Emmy and two Golden Globe nominations. She is also The New York Times bestselling author of the Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. She has been outspoken about the racial disparities and injustices that Black Americans face, which was also the subject of the 2018 film she starred in: The Hate U Give.
One very uplifting aspect of the virtual conference was its music, with the entire 2020 playlist available on Spotify. Enjoy!