How Empowering Women Changes the World

3 Takeaways from The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates

The Moment of Lift is an important book for anyone working in global development. Through both story and research, Melinda Gates sheds light on the ways in which ignoring women who live in poverty is not only ethically wrong, but economically stunting. This is why at Orant, we take a women-centered approach to all our programs. 

Here are 3 takeaways from The Moment of Lift:

1. It is unjust for children to die just because their parents are poor.

Melinda defines poverty as “not being able to save your children when mothers with more money could. And because the strongest instinct of a mother is to protect her children, poverty is the most disempowering force on earth.” 

2. You cannot solve global problems if you ignore the experiences and voices of half the world’s population.

Seem obvious? Unfortunately it’s not. Leadership teams across the world forget to invite women to the table.

“Development organizations have long worked with farmers,” Melinda writes. “For decades, though, when these groups consulted with leaders in the farming community, they would speak only with men.” 

Meanwhile, women were the ones working in the fields. Since women didn’t have time or social permission to attend meetings, they didn’t learn about best practices. And developers didn’t learn about their needs. As a result, women’s agricultural yield was 20-30 percent lower than men’s. This impacted family food security. 

Melinda references a 2011 study from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. The report showed that if women had the same resources as men, they would have the same agricultural yields. This would reduce the number of undernourished people in the world by 100-150 million. 

Agriculture is just one of the interconnected topics Melinda explores.

She also talks about maternal and newborn health. Family planning. Girls in schools. Child marriage. Unpaid work. What do all of her topics have in common? They put the marginalized in the center. They put women first. 

At Orant, we believe that women are the backbone of local communities.

Women’s perspectives matter. Their lives have an impact. We need our men and women to work together on an equal playing field. Only together can we create positive, lasting change. Only together can we prosper. 

Learn more about Orant’s holistic programs in Malawi here


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