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Melinda Gates: Closing the workforce gender gaps

Melinda Gates: Tackling gender wage gap

Philanthropist Melinda Gates told CNBC on Tuesday that women around the world need to be encouraged to participate in the workforce at the same rate as men.

"The [gender] gaps are particularly in the area of employment. That is, having labor force participation equal to men. We're not even close yet," the co-chair of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said in a "Squawk Box " interview. She spoke a day after joining Hillary Rodham Clinton to unveil a new analysis—conducted with The Clinton Foundation—of global gender inequality.

Their "No Ceilings Full Participation Report " identifies the significant gains women have made and the challenges that remain in the 20 years since the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing—where then-first lady Clinton called on the international community to ensure "women's rights are human rights."

According to the "Full Participation Report," about 55 percent of women globally are part of the labor force, compared with 82 percent of men, and the gap between men and women has not changed significantly since 1995.

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Melinda Gates: Global status of women

"Companies need to look level-by-level at what they are doing inside their own employee base and say, 'Are we making a level playing field paywise?'" Gates said. "You've got to get more women in technology because those are the high-paying jobs."

Another area of concern, she said, "I think we still don't have good pay yet for maternity leave at the federal level."

But the Gates Foundation co-chair was encouraged by the strides women have made. "We're seeing more women in the workforce."

"We're seeing far more women ... living longer than ever before. They're living healthier lives," she added.

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