The moment of lift

In her book The moment of lift, Melinda Gates shared her experience in traveling around the world to empower women, improve the health of people, abolish child marriage, and improve gender equity in family and in the workplace.

Reading this book makes me think about my own life. Do I really have gender equity in my family? Do my colleagues and I support and lift each other?

This is a great book to read. Melinda shares her personal and professional experience, and her own reflections. Some parts of the book evoke my feeling and make me ponder.

“How can we summon a moment of lift for human beings, and especially for women? Because when you lift up women, you lift up humanity”.

Melinda Gates
Moment of lift
The moment of lift
Here are some interesting quotes that I have learnt from the book:
  • ” Their cup is not empty; you can’t just pour your ideas into it. Their cup is already full, so you have to understand what is in their cup.” If you don’t understand the meaning and beliefs behind a community’s practices, you won’t present your idea in the context of their values and concerns, and people won’t hear you.
  • It’s a delicate thing to initiate change in a traditional culture. It has to be done with the utmost care and respect. Grievances must be heard, failures must be acknowledged. Local people have to lead. Shared goals have to be emphasised.
  • Saving lives starts with bringing everyone in. Our societies will be healthiest when they have no outsiders. We should strive for that, keep working to reduce poverty and disease. It’s not enough to help outsiders fight their way in. The real triumph will come when we no longer push anyone out.
  • When women can time and space their births, maternal mortality drops, newborn and child mortality drops, the mother and baby are healthier. The parents have more time and energy to care for each child, and families can put more resources toward the nutrition and education of each one.
  • When women can decide whether and when to have children, it saves lives, promotes health, expands education, and creates prosperity.
  • Women do not make decisions in vacuum; they are hemmed in by the views of their husbands and mothers-in-law, and those traditions do not change easily.
  • The best way to fight back is to speak up, to say openly the very thing that others stigmatise. It is a direct attack on the self-censorship that stigma needs to survive.
  • When social norms help everyone prosper, they have natural support because they are in people’s self-interest.
  • Education determines who thrives. Education is a vital step on the path to empowerment for women, a path that starts with good health, nutrition, family planning, and prepares you to earn an income, run a business, and form an organisation, and lead.
  • When girls are in the classroom and see how they can learn, they begin seeing themselves differently, and that gives them a sense of their own power.
  • When kids learn something new, they see that they can grow; that can lift their sense of self and change their future.
  • The best schools lift up the students who never thought they could rise. When you see that happen, it can make you cry with joy.
  • One of the biggest challenges in changing the culture is lifting up the self-image of the kids. They have had self-doubt planted in their minds by society, the media, even members of their own families. Mothers and fathers who have never achieved their goals can easily plant their own doubts in their kids’ minds. When those doubts get into kids’ heads, they’re hard to change. People who are the victims of doubts often feel targeted.
  • The harder peoples’ challenges have been, the more important it is to surround them with a new culture and fresh set of expectations.
  • Great schools don’t just teach you; they change you.
  • Unless there is an explicit effort to include everyone, schools will never be a remedy for exclusion; they will be a cause of it.
  • Leaders say what others want to say, and the others then join them. That’s how a young woman can change not only her life, but her culture.
  • A low self-image and oppressive social customs are inner and outer versions of the same force. If a girl can lift up a view of herself, she can start to change the culture that keeps her down. They need support. The first defense against a culture that hates you is a person who loves you. Love is the most powerful and underused force for change in the world. Love is the effort to help others flourish, and it often begins with lifting up a person’s self-image.
  • It is paid work that elevate women toward equality with men and gives them power and independence. The unpaid work a woman does at home is a barrier to the activities that can advance her: getting more education, earning outside income, meeting with other women, becoming politically active. Unequal unpaid work blocks a woman’s path to empowerment.
  • When women earn more and save more, they are more respected by their husbands, and that begins to shift the power in the household.
  • When men develop their nurturing side, it doubles the number of capable caregivers. Instead of our partner ignoring a need and the other emphasizing it, we share it. We both acknowledge what the family needs, and we make plans to take care of it. It is no longer “this is my job, that is yours.” It becomes ours.
  • Every woman who speaks up is a victory, but we need to find a way to make each victory matter to the women who still have no voice.
  • If we want to include everyone, we have to help everyone develop their talents and use their gifts for the good of the community. That’s what inclusion means – everyone is a contributor.
  • Women need to meet, talk, organise, and lead, so we can break down the walls and open the doors for everyone.

In her book, Melinda mentioned about learning how to step up and be an equal partner. That is really a good point to bring up with my hubby. We are pretty equal, but there are some areas that we can improve so that we can be more equal.

One of the things that I learn from Melinda from the book is that she can turn things around for herself at Microsoft by being herself and finding her voice with the help of peers, mentors, and role models.

“It means not acting in a way that’s false just to fit in. It’s expressing your talents, values and opinions in your style, defending your rights, and never sacrificing your self-respect. That is power.”

Melinda Gates

Sometimes it can be challenging to be yourself. Having the experience of growing up in Indonesia, and studying and working in Australia, I have adapted my way of thinking to Australian ways of thinking while still upholding some Asian cultures. Now that I live in Sweden, I need to adjust myself to the Swedish culture.

Once I asked for some tips from one of my colleagues about how I could adjust myself well, and how I should behave in Sweden. The answer was: “Be yourself. Be Bertie”.

My mindset and my way of thinking are influenced by how I was raised and educated. I still uphold some of the traditional Asian cultures. I love Indonesian food. However, I also have a new way of thinking, embracing Australian and Swedish cultures while trying to keep my personality.

My favourite quote from Melinda is about love and race.

The goal is for everyone to be connected, for everyone to belong, and for everyone to be loved.

Love is what lifts up up. When we come together, we rise. No one is exploited because they’re poor or excluded because they’re weak.

There is no stigma and no shame and no mark of inferiority because you’re sick or old or because you’re not the ‘right’ race or because you’re the ‘wrong’ religion or because you’re a girl or a woman. There is no wrong race or religion or gender.

We have shed our false boundaries. We can love without limits. We see ourselves in others. We see ourselves as others.

This is the moment of lift.

Melinda Gates

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