Bill and Melinda Gates have thrown down the gauntlet and have placed a bet. A bet that will change the world as we know it. The lives of people in poor countries will improve faster in the next 15 years than at any other time in history. And, that their lives will improve more than anyone else’s1. In 2000, Bill and Melinda started The Gates Foundation as a way to use innovation, health and education to reduce inequality around the world. With a four-prong approach, the Gates have identified breakthroughs that will change the world – for the better.
In 1990, one in ten children died in the world by the age of five. One in ten. Today, it is one in twenty. But, that number is still too large. With education, such as breastfeeding, umbilical cord care, hygiene, immunizations, sanitation and more, this number will be cut in half again by 2030.
With immunizations and education, four diseases could be eradicated by 2030. Small pox was eradicated in 1980, soon to follow is polio, malaria, and possibly HIV. This does not include all the other sicknesses and diseases that will be cured and prevented with medications and immunizations such as Guinea worm, elephantiasis, river blindness, and blinding trachoma, In the last year, 800 million immunizations and medications were distributed to people – most of these donated by pharmaceutical companies.
Seven out of ten people living in sub-Saharan Africa are farmers. In the United States, this statistic is two out of a hundred. Even though most Africans are farmers, they still have to import over $50 billion of food each year from richer countries. Why? Because African farmers cannot produce the yield that American farmers can. An African farmer harvests approximately 30 bushels of wheat an acre; in the United States, farmers can harvest 150 bushels an acre. With better fertilizer, better seed, and technology, African farmers can produce bigger crops and excess can be sold to supplement their diets with milk, eggs, and other foods to prevent malnutrition from eating only grain products.
Parents forego medical treatment and education for their children over a few dollars. Poor people do not have the access to financial information to help make informed decisions. Most do not even have a bank account, instead hiding money in their homes or purchasing commodities that loose value. To send money to needy family members, individuals must take a day off work to deliver cash or to pay someone to make the delivery for them. With digital banking technology, the poor will have more control over their finances and ultimately their lives. It is estimated that by 2030, 2 billion people who do not have a bank account today will be using mobile banking to make financial decisions and to purchase items, as well as transfer money with a few touches of a screen.
The Gates Foundation donates more money to education than to any other cause. Why? Education levels the playing field worldwide. Education allows children to make themselves the best they can be. However, in poorer countries lack of teachers and technology makes it difficult to even learn the basics. With growing technology, children (and adults) in poor countries will be able to access online learning and complete their education from home. This will not replace teachers by any means, but will provide an additional resource where it is needed to help poor families thrive. Educating women also needs to be addressed and the disparities between male and female education needs to be eliminated. If this is not addressed, education will continue to be an inequality in poor countries.
This is especially important because when a young woman gets an education, it has a powerful ripple effect. As an adult, she’ll earn more money. If she has children, they will be twice as likely to live past the age of five. Her daughters will be twice as likely to go to school themselves. There’s no way to get around the fact that more girls need to be in good schools, and for longer.
Bill and Melinda Gates need your help to make these goals a reality. We need global citizens to care about helping those families and individuals in poor countries around the world. We need global citizens that believe that these individuals can change their lives for the better. The Gates, the Global Team of 200, and I are not asking you to quit your jobs and donate all your time, money and energy to helping the poor. No, we are asking you to step back and take a few minutes once in awhile and learn about the lives of people who are worse off than you. These stories aren’t front-page news. These stories don’t have overwhelming support like an earthquake or hurricane. These are everyday lives of families struggling to survive. So, help raise awareness. Volunteer. Donate some money, if you are able. Help the Gates, the Global Team and myself hold our leaders and companies, nonprofits, and others accountable.
Over 1000 organizations and 130 countries have come together to launch a campaign called action/2015 to make sure those in power are accountable and for the goals they set in September with the United Nations, especially those related to women and children. Become a global citizen and add your voice to the fight.
The more global citizens there are, and the more active and effective they are, the more progress the world will make. We hope you will show your support by signing up, because we believe that people can and must work together more to make the world a more equitable place. In fact, we’re betting on it.
Forty years ago, Bill Gates and his childhood friend Paul Allen made a bet that software and personal computers would change the way people worked and played. When Bill and Melinda Gates say that in fifteen years the lives of poor people will improve faster in the next 15 years than ever before, that diseases will be eradicated, children will be living past their 5th birthdays, and that women will be educated… I’m putting my money on Bill and Melinda.
Read the 2015 Gates Letter.
I wrote this post as part of The Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health.
Our Motto: Individually we are all powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.
All information used with permission.