By Ariel Scotti / February 12, 2019

Bill and Melinda Gates Reveal Surprise Calls to Action in Annual Letter

The power couple listed nine things they learned that changed how they approach the world.

bill Melinda gates letter
Melinda and Bill Gates reflected on surprises in their annual letter. (Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Robin Hood)

In the nearly two decades since they started the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the couple wrote that “surprises” can be powerful calls to action.

“Sometimes a surprise helps you see that the status quo needs to change,” the billionaire couple wrote for CNN.

One such surprise the Microsoft founder reflected on was an experience he had last year in Chicago at the Becoming a Man program that helps young men in neighborhoods with a lot of crime and gang activity explore their emotions and hone their decision-making skills.

The couple wrote about the event in their annual letter that also reflected on how other surprises around the world will dictate their future philanthropic decisions.

Number one on their list was their discovery that Africa is the youngest continent in terms of average age.

“While the rest of the world keeps getting older, the median age of Africa — and especially sub-Saharan Africa — stays young. This can be either an asset or a source of instability, depending on these young people’s access to high-quality health and education services,” they wrote.

Another revelation was that “data can be sexist.”

“There are huge gaps in the global data about women and girls,” they found. “For example, we don’t know how much income women in developing countries earned last year or how much property they own or how many more hours girls spend on household chores than boys do. Better data will help policymakers take action to improve women’s and girls’ lives.”

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