Prior to 2000 Melinda Gates was publicly known as wife of Bill Gates principal founder of Microsoft. However since the launch of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Melinda has become widely recognised for her own successes including those achieved prior her public identity. Valedictorian at her high school, Melinda gained a bachelor’s degree in computer science and economics, tutored children in computer programming and upon graduating joined Microsoft as Marketing Manager.
Since launching the foundation (which is also the world’s largest private charitable organisation) Melinda has gained public recognition in her own right recently culminating in the release of The Moment of Lift How Empowering Women Changes the World.
This is Melinda Gates’ first book and she begins carefully “In fact, the first time I was asked if I was a feminist, I didn’t know what to say because I didn’t think of myself as a feminist. I’m not sure I knew then what a feminist was.”
Careful start of not, Melinda is clear with what she is looking to achieve. “We need the help of every advocate now. Women and men. No one should be left out. Everyone should be brought in. Our call is to lift women up – and when we come together in this cause, we are the lift.”
While Melinda acknowledges her financial advantage, we as readers also need to recognise she is human. Her compassion and concern for others is admirable. The book is broken in to various chapters: Newborn Heath, Family Planning, Schooling, Unpaid Work, Child Marriage, Women in Agriculture, Women in the Work Place and Coming Together.
Melinda has visited many developing countries and met with the poor. Melinda is a mother. She is a human. She has discussed heading back to her accommodation and crying. Melinda is compassionate but she is also charged. “In societies of deep poverty, women are pushed to the margins. Women are outsiders. That’s not a coincidence. When any community pushes any group out, especially its women, it’s creating a crisis that can only be reversed by bringing the outsiders back in.”
Melinda is also very clear in The Moment of Lift – male allies are critical “…when women are trying to decide whether we should stand up, we don’t know if others will stand with us.”
The book highlights many issues including the failure to recognise the unpaid work of women and draws specifically upon New Zealand feminist, former politician and economist Marilyn Waring’s book If Women Counted. Melinda’s book has also been promoted by Barak Obama in a comedy sketch where he picks up the phone and says “Hello… who? Oh Bill… right, right, Melinda’s husband.”
As the book continues, the reader will find themselves taken deeper and deeper in to a concerning world in which we all live. Abuse, child marriage, genital cutting. She discusses newborn and midwife help in isolated regions and the #metoo movement. At times, surreal reading. One young girl in India heard her parents discussing her marriage for the following day. She used an app on her phone to alert authorities and they came and helped stopped the marriage. To think there has been an app made for this is wonderful but shocking at the same time.
Melinda returns to one point: education across the board. “As women gain rights, families flourish, and so do societies. That connection is built on a simple truth: Whenever you include a group that’s been excluded, you benefit everyone.”
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