Book Reviews

Book review: The Moment of Lift

The Moment of Lift, Melinda Gates

In recommending Melinda Gates’ The Moment of Lift to friend, I wrote “this is a short read, not a quick read”. There is a lot to think for a smallish book.

Gates powerfully blends her experience, scientific data and stories to make a strong argument for why empowering women must be the primary path in building strong societies. She shares her experiences brought about through Gates Foundation, traveling to the margins of the poorest societies, listening to learn how to help the most underserved and under supported global communities.

Her vision is broad: she makes a strong argument for why the Foundation works globally rather than domestically. Gates is also candid in why so many philanthropic ventures fail: often, it’s experts coming in and imparting wisdom on others rather than understanding the systems in which individuals operate.

My favorite example of this was “their cup is not empty”. People needing help are not empty, waiting around for someone else’s ideas to be poured into them. They are already full, and understanding what’s already in their cup is the crucial first step in providing any type of support. I thought the book was going to focus primarily on women’s education.

Through exploring maternal health and newborn health, family planning, unpaid work and women in the workplace, Gates examines a multifaceted approach to the experience of women. Across each category, she makes a strong case for why empowering women empowers men, and creates stronger, family-friendly cultures. The stories will stay with you – more than once, I put the book down to think and internalize the experiences of individual women that are so different than my own: child marriage, in particular.

While I believed in her mission before reading the book, I am now able to better articulate the why of women’s empowerment. A few of my take-aways:

  • We must go to the margins and work at the margins to make significant impact
  • When women are empowered, and empowered to help each other, the perception of what is possible changes
  • Mothers hold the key to cultural change
  • Women and men must work in partnership; a “it’s our turn” mentality will not be successful nor sustainable
  • The United States needs paid parental leave already (!)
  • We must go to, listen to and empathize with people before trying to create change, otherwise there’s no way to really understand what problems need solving

If you’ve read Moment of Lift, I’d like to know what stayed with you.

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