The UN General Assembly set a goal in 2015 to achieve global gender equality by 2030 as part of its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)ambitious objectives focused on peace and prosperity. But now at the halfway point, the world is nowhere close to accomplishing it. According to the 2022 Goalkeepers Report released by the Bill Melinda Gates Foundation, gender equality wont be a feasible reality until 2108 at the earliestthree generations later than they hoped. Gender equality is falling further and further out of reach, Melinda French Gates wrote in the report. She added that development experts knew the world wasnt on track to reach this goal by 2030 when they first put the goal into writing, but progress has stalled in large part because of the pandemic.According to French Gates, the real problem is that the world hasnt focused enough on gender equality, adding that when it does, it treats symptoms, not the cause.The World Bank reported that pre-pandemic, the difference in expected lifetime earnings between women and men globally totalled $172.3 trillion, double the worlds annual GDP. It took an incalculable toll not just on womens health but on their livelihoods, the report highlighted, adding that many were pushed out of the formal sector and lost their jobs in the informal sector. Consider that the labour force participation rate among women worldwide is 47 per cent, whereas its 72 per cent for men, thats a 25 per cent gap to parity.While efforts to close the gap have long focused on empowering women, Gates said thats where were missing the marklasting gender equality instead relies on women actually gaining power. During her exclusive with Fortune, French Gates spoke about three key areas of womens power that are crucial to establish first: Education, contraceptives, and moneyUNICEF finds that 129 million girls are out of school worldwide, with only 49 per cent of countries achieving gender parity in primary education. Young girls need to be educated, said French Gates. With your education, you can unlock doors. But to live your dreams, she continues, women need to have access to contraceptives so they can decide whether to have children and space them. Projections from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, a research center at the University of Washington and a Gates Foundation partner, revealed that 77.9 per cent of women ages 15 to 49 will have their family planning needs met with modern methods by 2030short of the 100 per cent an SDG is aiming for. Thats slightly less than the 78.4 per cent of women who fell into that cohort in 2021, signifying a slowdown in progress for reproductive health care services over the next decade.She also placed great importance on helping women access digital bank accounts, particularly in lower-income countries where their access to new technology is often limited. According to French Gates, When women have economic means in their own handsnot just cash, but in an account that they controlit unlocks all kinds of things for their lives. Money is power, and that is a huge tool for women.For her, hope looks like the group of female scientists leading breakthrough research in Africa by running a surveillance system to pick up diseases. Or the Senegal woman who started a business recycling tires found on the streets into synthetic turf. Or the female cofounder of a Kenyan organisation that partners with women running informal daycares to make them more accessible to low-income families. When I see women achieving their dreams in science, or as businesswomen, and supporting other women, that keeps me hopeful, French Gates said. It helps me know we actually can make progress.