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The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates

Updated: May 14, 2020

Where did you grow up? What opportunities were handed to you? Are there any rights denied under law or cultural bias against women in your part of the world?

Fact is: What happens globally affects us all. Today we know that

“Poverty is the most disempowering force on earth.”

Extreme poverty creates diseases and the primary causes of those are the cultural, financial, and legal restrictions that block what women can do – and think they can do.

Those who know me know that, the Empowerment of women and gender equality rank among the topics, I truly fight for. As an equalist I truly believe and I agree with the author that

“Every woman should be able to use her voice and pursue her potential, and that women and men should all work together to take down the barriers and end the biases that still hold women back.”

There are many books out there on the shelves that explore the causes, systems, and prejudices behind global poverty. When I discovered this book in one of my favorite Viennese bookshop, I wanted to read it immediately and I did. To be honest, I couldn’t put it down.

Writing with emotion, candor, and grace, Melinda Gates, the author of the book “The Moment of Lift” has been on a mission to find solutions for people with the most urgent needs, wherever they live around the world. From a partner working behind the scenes to one of the world's foremost advocates for women, Melinda Gates is driven by the belief that all lives have equal value.

In this moving and compelling book, she shares startling data, moving conversations and lessons she’s learned from the inspiring people she’s met during her journey around the world – and most importantly, shows us, how we can all get involved.

Throughout her journey, one thing has become increasingly clear to her:

“To lift humanity, you need to stop keeping women down”.

To fight poverty, we have to see and study the barriers of poverty, distance, ignorance, doubt, stigma, religious and gender bias and then go around them. Convinced that all women should be free to decide, this book addresses issues that need our attention – from maternal and newborn health, family planning and access to contraceptives, to schooling, unpaid work, child marriage, women in agriculture and women in the workplace.

Here a summary of insights that have upset me the most:

  • For girls age 15 to 19 around the world, the leading cause of death is childbirth.

  • More than 130 million girls around the world are still not in school.

  • Child brides have much higher rates of HIV, they’re more likely to be raped and beaten by their partners.

  • 70% of the world’s poorest people get most of their income and their food by farming small plots of land.

  • In 113 countries, there are no laws that ensure equal pay for equal work by men and women.

  • On average, women around the world spend more than twice as many hours as men on unpaid work. In India, women spend 6 hours a day, in the US, women spend more than 4 hours, and in Norway, women spend 3.5 hours a day on unpaid work. There is no country where the gap is zero.

No other book I’ve read explores the complex subject of global poverty with more sensitivity, grace, remarkable empathy, and passion than Melinda Gates in her debut book. She first takes us back to her beginning, acknowledging her privilege, growing up as a wealthy white female. She explains how she first learned about this moment of lift and the path that led her to this book. Additionally, for the first time, she writes about her personal life and the road to equality in her own marriage. This book and its tremendous insights, can’t be summarized in a simple book review. When I started reading it, I had no choice than to share it with my followers on Instagram and adding the caption “Thanks for writing my bible”. The people’s individual stories backed up with plenty of up to date numbers, so deep and so true, enriched my life, my mind and opened my eyes even more.

I recommend this book to everyone who wants to understand poverty, to fight against inequality and is looking to find purpose in everyday interactions with others. This compassionate book, brought tears so my eyes so many times. I know I should add something that I didn’t like about this book, but I can’t. I simply can’t.

As Melinda states: Recognize, reduce, redistribute. We have to keep working to get better data so we can understand the lives of the people, identifying their incentives, reduce inequalities and change culture. For that we need first and foremost empathy. Empathy allows for listening, and listening leads to understanding. As women gain rights, families flourish, and so do societies.

To conclude, we need a lot more voices like Melinda’s, speaking up for women. Empowering women and girls is the key to social transformation. This book is a manifesto of female empowerment, a manifesto of the invisible labor that women take under their wings, and a manifesto about the pursuit of knowledge as a key to improving others’ lives.

Melinda Gates, you are a role model and an inspiration for everyone, especially myself.

About the author:

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. She shapes and approves the foundation’s strategies, reviews results, and sets the overall direction of the organization.

My favourite quotes:

A girl who is given love and support can start to break the self-image that keeps her down. As she gains self-confidence, she sees she can learn. As she learns, she sees her own gifts. As she develops her gifts, she sees her own power; she can defend her own rights. That is what happens when you offer girls love, not hate. You lift their gaze. They gain their voice.
The goal is for everyone to be connected. The goal is for everyone to belong. The goal is for everyone to be loved.
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