Melinda Gates is the co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest private charity in the world. Melinda met Bill through work during the early days of Microsoft. Rather than hoarding their fortune, the Gates family has generously committed to donating billions of dollars. Melinda has traveled around the world and met with many women in developing countries. She shares several personal anecdotes in her book to help illustrate the importance of empowering women everywhere.
1) Empowering women helps society as a whole
“As women gain rights, families flourish, and so do societies. That connection is built on a simple truth: Whenever you include a group that's been excluded, you benefit everyone. And when you're working globally to include women and girls, who are half of every population, you're working to benefit all members of every community. Gender equity lifts everyone.”
Giving women opportunities to thrive will benefit everybody. We need to shift cultural, political, and societal norms across the world in order to pursue this vision.
2) Access to contraceptives is essential
“…contraceptives are the greatest life-saving, poverty-ending, women-empowering innovation ever created.”
Women need safe and affordable access to contraceptives. Without it, they lack the freedom to start a family when the time is right for them. When women have this freedom, then they will have more opportunities to pursue education and career paths.
3) Women should be making the decisions that affect women
“It's the mark of a backward society - or a society moving backward - when decisions are made for women by men.”
For too long, men have dominated politics. We need more women in positions of power to make decisions on issues that impact women
4) Everyone wants to contribute
“We all want to have something to offer. This is how we belong. It’s how we feel included. So if we want to include everyone, then 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. And if they need help to become a contributor, then we should help them, because they are full members in a community that supports everyone.”
We all want to contribute in some way. Contributing helps us feel like we are a part of something greater than ourselves. But many people need more support before they can start contributing
5) Empathy is the key to progress
“When people can’t agree, it’s often because there is no empathy, no sense of shared experience. If you feel what others feel, you’re more likely to see what they see. Then you can understand one another. Then you can move to the honest and respectful exchange of ideas that is the mark of a successful partnership. That’s the source of progress.”
Empathy helps us understand each other. Without empathy, we can’t see things from the perspectives of others. We must put ourselves in each other’s shoes and see where they are coming from.