The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World

By Melinda Gates

Bluebird Books for Life (an imprint of Pan Macmillan) – 2019 - 273 pages - MRP: ₹599 /-

ISBN: 9781529005509 - Available on Amazon and all bookstores in Mumbai, India

Did you know that Melinda Gates, the co-chair of ‘The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’ is a faithful Catholic and was influenced by the way she was brought up in her Catholic faith by Ursuline nuns in the USA? Well, if you didn’t, then this is a book you should be picking up to read right now.

We all know Melinda Gates as the wife of one of the richest men in the world, Bill Gates. But in this amazing book, Melinda shows us how she has been influenced by the girls and women she has met all through her life, especially through her philanthropic work. She mentions women in Africa, India, Australia, and Europe who have inspired her to do better work in philanthropy. Melinda Gates also stresses in this life changing book how her Catholic faith and her conversations with Catholic religious personalities have made her realize Pope Francis’ famous and much spoken about ‘sphere theory’ - the theory that life and existence is like a sphere. At the center is God and we are privileged to be with Him. And hence the ones who are at the center should reach out to those at the periphery and bring them back to the center, the lost sheep of Christ. Where Melinda is concerned, she wants to show through this book how she and her foundation wishes to empower women who change the way society is and the way we look at society.

‘The Moment of Lift’ is about the way women around the world are revolutionizing agriculture, the workspace, politics, welfare schemes, education, et al., to make not only their lives better, but as well as those of their fellow sisters and fellow human beings. In this awe-inspiring book, we see Melinda Gates making choices and living a life which is in service to the women around the world who are victims of child marriage, FGM or female genital mutilation, sexual abuse, child labor, illiteracy, and malnutrition. We see her not as an irresponsible rich woman, but as a woman who stays weeks with the women she is empowering along with her three children Jenn, Rory and Phoebe, in order to teach them the value of their rights and privileges and the fact that they are not superior to any other individual just because they are the children of Bill and Melinda Gates.

Melinda brings out her mothering skills in this book. She talks about her childhood in a Catholic set up and how till this date she takes recourse to her Catholic faith, though many times she is not in agreement with some of the practices or dictums of the Catholic Church. She remembers her convent teachers with pride saying how these Ursuline nuns taught her how to use a computer, coding and the basics of making software. These skills and values would one day land her with a lucrative job at Microsoft and later in life lead to matrimony with Bill Gates himself.

By these humble words and examples of exemplary women, Melinda Gates tries to bring to the reader’s attention the evils meted out to women in the world and how we can overcome them, if only we start taking our minds off our gadgets and try, as Pope Francis says, getting our hands into the ‘mud’ of the real challenges of life that affect not only women but everyone who has been denied their rights.

Melinda makes a lot of references to India and her work in our country. She believes that the women of India will overcome their hurdles, but also warns us about how deadly our battles have become. Melinda Gates wishes well for Mother India. She hopes that India will emerge from her domestic problems because according to her foundation’s analysis, we are a beautiful nation of diverse people. We have our problems, but we can surmount them once we sift the real seeds of progress from the chaff of our petty differences.

Melinda in this fabulous book talks about the ordinary people who have lived extraordinary lives, especially young girls who despite all odds have reached for the stars. ‘The Moment of Lift’ is a book that lifts our self-esteem and our pride in our talents. I highly recommend this book not only to all women but, to every person wanting to know the real meaning of what it is to be in the seat of power and realizing that with great power comes humility and then responsibility.

If you are a woman going through a crisis and need upliftment, then read this soul nourishing international bestselling book. If you want to know the challenges of philanthropy then read this book. If you want to empower women and want to be empowered yourself but have no clue where to start, then this is the book for you. If you want to read a popular inspirational book which mainly focuses on women and girls, then read ‘The Moment of Lift’ by Melinda Gates.

I personally feel that this was one of the best books I’ve read this year. The writing is crisp, clear and full of humility. I especially liked the part where suddenly because Bill Gates was personally driving and dropping his first child Jenn to school, all other fathers of that area and school started doing the same. I really got to see a different side of the Gates family rather than the one seen in books about finance, start-up stories, famous biographies, economics, software books, et al.

I hope to read more books by Melinda Gates in the near future. Kudos to her and her foundation for a job well done!

Fiza Pathan is an accomplished author of twelve award-winning books and has won a number of international awards. She lives with her maternal family in Bandra and blogs on insaneowl.com. She reviews and researches books for The Examiner.