The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates (2019)

download-1While this book isn’t particularly well-written (which annoyed me at first), I was so impressed with not only the work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, but specifically their work in lifting up women, and even more specifically in the way Melinda travels to so many countries to get a realistic look at problems and solutions. They’re not just giving money away to food and health and educational programs; they’re meeting with women and girls in villages to find out what specific  problems need solving. For example, condoms are readily available in many places, but it’s not helping women control their pregnancies because the men–who are dominant in almost all the third world cultures–don’t want to wear them. So availability isn’t the answer. Instead, women want a shot once a year or every 3 years or whatever.  That’s the only birth control that will work for them, but they often have to walk for a day to get to a clinic only to find out there’s aren’t any shots left. So the solution is more shots, more clinics, and fewer resources on distribution of condoms.  But until we find out from the recipients of these projects what they want and what will work, we’d be wasting money. Melinda seems to get that, and she and her staff are willing to do the hard work of talking to women, gathering data, and figuring out solutions together. Too often, our data has relied on bias, and therefore, isn’t good data. For example, when discussing traditions that women want to change within a culture, she asks, “Who was omitted or disempowered or disadvantaged with a cultural practice was formed? Who didn’t have a voice? Who wasn’t asked their view? How can we fill the blind spots and reverse the bias?” (174). When we ask these questions, we get at the heart of the challenges, the obstacles, and the solutions. And she reminds us that outsiders can hep facilitate these questions but outsiders cannot manipulate the conversation because change must come from within. From what the book conveys, I like their approach, their respect for other countries and cultures, but also, their total commitment to helping women get what they really need for a better life: the top priority being access to contraception so they can limit the number of kids to those they can feed, limit their risk of death in childbirth, and limit the time they spend pregnant and child-rearing to free them up to work on a farm or in a business.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s