The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates

Monday, February 22, 2021

The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by Melinda Gates

Published by Flatiron Books, April 23, 2019

Genre: Nonfiction

Format: I audiobooked this one via Libby

This was my first Melinda Gates read. It was one top nonfiction picks at my local library, so I added it to my shelf and listened a few months ago. I would recommend it to anyone who has read the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals or has or is interested in a global worldview.

Ideas that Gates had me pausing over:

1.The Intersection of Child Marriage, Poverty, Education, and Contraception

Worldwide, 12 million girls annually are married before the age of 18. Often, these marriages come with dropping out of school because in many nations a married woman does not have time to devote to schooling. In some cultures, it is the perception that the only reason a married woman would want contraception is for infidelity. This leads to many young married girls living the decades after their weddings pregnant, with no means to space out their pregnancies for the sake of recovering from pregnancy or being able to provide better opportunities for the children they already have.

As Gates was raised Catholic, it was interesting to read about the backlash Gates has faced advocating for contraceptives and the cultural sensitivity necessary in connecting women in different settings to these resources. Three million newborns die every year, Gates notes, and these newborns die because of poverty, poverty that is often connected to child marriage, lack of education, and lack of access to contraceptives.

2. It's Important to Consider the Value of Unpaid Work

In households, there is still a major discrepancy in the percentage of time men complete work that is unpaid (laundry, scheduling appointments) versus the time women invest in unpaid work. The statistic offered is one hour per day (men) to six plus hours per day (women). Apparently, there is no nation where the discrepancy is zero. This reminds me of Judy Brady's famous essay "I Want a Wife."  Don't we all need a wife? It was interesting to hear Melinda's perspective on Bill as a family man in this chapter.

3. There are Still Girls in the World Who Want to Go to School and Can't

In developing nations, only 55 girls receive an education to every 100 boys. I sit here with millions of hours of education at my fingertips, and it breaks my heart to think of a girl who wants nothing more than to learn -- and is denied. 


Those who feel threatened by women learning and getting connected to better ways to protect their children are shortsighted. As Gates points out, no one loses when the disenfranchised finally have the resources they need to achieve their potential. This is the moment of lift. I give this book four stars because it was better than I thought. It opened my eyes to Gates' decades of experience in understanding the state of the world and made me consider what I could do to contribute to this lift.

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