The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by Melinda Gates
For the last twenty years, Melinda Gates has been on a mission. Her goal, as co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has been to find solutions for people with the most urgent needs, wherever they live. Throughout this journey, one thing has become increasingly clear to her: If you want to lift a society up, invest in women.
In this candid and inspiring book, Gates traces her awakening to the link between women’s empowerment and the health of societies. She shows some of the tremendous opportunities that exist right now to “turbo-charge” change. And she provides simple and effective ways each one of us can make a difference.
I loved this book so much, and really think everyone should read it. Gates discusses so many important topics with so much insight. All of the topics she discussed were approached with such nuance, and Gates did a really good job of arguing why that facet of equality is important. For example, there’s a chapter on agriculture, which might seem out of place in a book on empowering women. But she discusses how it’s related to female empowerment, and how her foundation came to understand that, and what can be done about it.
Gates mentions that she is a data-driven person, and brings that into the book, which helped make her points and I really appreciated. I myself am a very data-driven person; you can’t just make a claim and have no data to back it up. I need the data. And she presented the data in the book, and it made her claims much stronger.
Gates is very open about being Catholic, and I really liked her religious views as well. She’s not preachy about Catholicism and is very open about critiquing the church and the religion (I’m pretty sure she’s had personal disputes with the Pope). She’s also good about acknowledging where religion is the root of an issue. I think her being open about her Catholic beliefs is really important: a lot of the issues she discusses, such as contraception use and access to family planning, are viewed as going against the word of God by those who hold similar beliefs. Having someone who is openly Catholic and openly loves the church critique those views and give a nuanced discussion into why contraception and abortion are important to equality is what will ultimately help change the minds of very religious people. So, it was an important aspect of the book.
I know some people might be wary of reading a book from Melinda Gates, who is one of the wealthiest people in the world. But, I think she does a really good job of acknowledging that and discussing it. She’s open about her privilege. She acknowledges that she’s a wealthy philanthropist and has no first-hand experience with a lot of the issues she discusses. Instead, she uses others’ stories to help illustrate her point. She relies on the teachings of others, and highlights the fact that she learned from others. She’s open about where she’s messed up in the past and where she can continue to learn. To me (a privileged white woman, so maybe take this with a small grain of salt), the book never came across like, “look at me, the wealthy, white woman, learning from poor people of colour.” She was always respectful and grateful that people were willing to educate her. She acknowledges that this is also a privilege.
One issue I might have with it is the language is fairly binary: there is a lot of men vs. women talk without a lot of room for non-binary or gender nonconforming people. I can’t remember, but I’m fairly sure Gates acknowledges this at some point and states that she uses the terms men and women for ease and simplicity. Her overall language, though, is fairly inclusive: she discusses the fact that we need more representation from everyone. But, it’s something I wanted to mention in case that’s a trigger for anyone.
Overall, I think this book is really well-written and covers a really important topic. It’s a super easy read in terms of language, which makes it really accessible. I highly recommend it for anyone, honestly. I’ve even recommended it in job interviews.
But what are your thoughts? Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? Do you plan to read this book? Let me know!!