Global philanthropist, advocate for women and girls and author Melinda Gates chose Joburg to launch her best-selling book, The Moment Of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes The World, earlier this week.
The event was in association with the Nelson Mandela Foundation and attended by his widow, Graca Machel.
Gates was in conversation with journalist Redi Tlhabi to discuss the positive effects of empowering women, which results in lifting up humanity.
Speaking of the message she wanted to relate in the book, Gates said she wanted to share stories of the women she’s met and the pivotal lessons she’s learned from them.
“I didn’t realise how much more I would learn and grow from the process of writing the book. These women’s stories have animated my life and I’ve long felt the need to amplify their stories. They’ve shown me how important it is for us to take action on the global stage.”
Gates shares lessons she has learned through her professional life and her philanthropic journeys and how the world is impacted when women are not treated as equals.
The topics covered range from lack of access to contraception, child marriages and gender inequality in the workplace, and she backs each subject with compelling data. She introduces readers to women from across the world and highlights the importance of togetherness towards achieving social cohesion.
Gates strives for honesty, transparency and believability. Being one of the world’s most affluent people, she understands that some may not think her struggles are the same as everyone else’s and gives examples on how she and her husband, Bill, struggled, fought and worked through issues just like everyone else. These included striving for equality within their marriage - a subject many couples can relate to.
One of the stories which sticks out is that of Sister Sudha Varghese from India, whose faith led her to the Musahar people (“rat eaters”). These are the “untouchables” - people born into a caste system and raised to think they are worthless.
Best-selling book, The Moment Of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes The World launched in Joburg.
Varghese began working to improve the lives of Musahar women and girls by opening a free boarding school in 2005. These were women and girls who were repeatedly attacked, reminded they were nothing and taught they are worthless from birth.
In school, they are taught that they have the same rights as everyone else, and you have to use these skills to defend your rights.
As they were learning self-defence, Varghese thought it would be great to send a team to India’s national karate competition. They came home with seven trophies and a sense of being in a culture that doesn’t look down on them. They were blown away by the respect that others paid them.
“The first defence 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 This is what happens when you offer girls love, not hate. You lift their gaze. They gain their voice,” Gates says in her fourth chapter, on changing how a girl sees herself.
Threaded out in nine chapters, Gates provides insight into her personal life and the road to equality in her own marriage and more.
The Moment Of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes The World is available at all major bookstores.