Updated Sep 17, 2019

Bill Gates: Gender inequality affects every country on Earth

Graphic: Gates Foundation, "Examining Inequality"

Bill Gates, in an interview about a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation report on global inequality that's out Tuesday, told Axios that gender inequality cuts across every single country on earth — a shortfall that unites the U.S. and the developing world.

What he's saying: "The developed world hasn't fully solved the problem, and yet we know it's important and we know we need to work on it," Gates said by phone. "The gender issues are much worse as you get down into these poor countries."

  • As the report puts it: "No matter where you are born, your life will be harder if you are born a girl. If you are born in a poor country or district, it will be even harder."

The report's most memorable sentence: "Where you are born is more predictive of your future than any other factor."

  • The paradox: "Even in the worst-off parts of low- and low-middle-income countries, more than 99 percent of communities have seen an improvement in child mortality and schooling. Yet despite this progress, persistent gaps in opportunity mean that nearly half a billion people — about one in 15 — still do not have access to basic health and education."
  • "Inequality between countries has narrowed but remains large."

Released ahead of next week's UN General Assembly in New York, this is the Gates Foundation's third annual Goalkeepers Data Report, tracking progress on the UN Global Goals.

  • "The world is a tumultuous place even without paying attention to developing countries," Gates said. "So I think this year will be a particular challenge."

Gates told me he remains concerned about discussion in the U.S. "about turning inward."

  • But he said the data shows that the government's small amount of foreign aid, relative to the budget, is "not just guilt money that ends up not having an impact."
  • "People think, 'Hey, Africa is in tough shape,'" Gates added. "They don't realize that in terms of literacy and child survival, it's in dramatically better shape today than it has ever been."

Go deeper: Read the entire report

Go deeper

How women's issues became Melinda Gates' issue

Photo: Michele Crowe/CBS via Getty Images

Melinda Gates told me in an interview earlier this year that she initially eschewed a focus on women's issues, seeing it as one of the "soft" areas typically reserved for female philanthropists.

Driving the news: Gates said she realized that women's issues were actually the key to the other areas that she is passionate about: global health, education and economic equality.

Go deeperArrowOct 3, 2019

The promising decline in global child mortality

Graphics: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The number of children who die before the age of 5 has declined steadily around the world, as newborn mortality and cases of pneumonia have dropped, according to a report from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The big picture: Inequality between countries is decreasing across the globe, but the gaps remain sizable. The report indicates the most predictive factor about a child's future is where they are born.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Sep 21, 2019

Exclusive: Bill Gates regrets meeting with Jeffrey Epstein

Photo: John van Hasselt/Corbis via Getty Images

Bill Gates, who donated $2 million to the MIT Media Lab at the request of pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, told Axios on Monday: "I wish I hadn't met with him."

The big picture: The donation was made in 2014, after Epstein pleaded guilty in 2008 to two state charges of soliciting a minor for prostitution. MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito resigned Sept. 7 after the extent of his involvement with Epstein was revealed.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Sep 17, 2019