47 Quotes from The Moment of Lift book by Melinda Gates



Hello friends. This post is a collection of quotes from the New York Times bestseller book - The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates.

The Moment of Lift has been described by Chicago Tribune as a moral appeal, imploring each of us who reads it to look around - at our own families, our own workplaces, our own place in a gigantic, but highly connected, world - and get to work making it more equal.

Chapter 1-3 Quotes

Being a feminist means believing that every woman should be able to use her voice and pursue her potential, and that women and men should all work together to take down the barriers and end the biases that still hold women back. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 1

Bill and I also shared a belief in the power and importance of software. We knew that writing software for personal computers would give individuals the computing power that institutions had, and democratizing computing would change the world. That's why we were so excited to be at Microsoft every day - going 120 miles an hour building software. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 1

Our foundation was just a small endowment and an idea back then. We believed that all lives had equal value, but we saw that the world didn’t act that way, that poverty and disease afflicted some places far more than others. We wanted to create a foundation to fight those inequities. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 1

When the women were able to time and space their pregnancies, they were more likely to advance their education, earn an income, raise healthy children, and have the time and money to give each child the food, care, and education needed to thrive. When children reach their potential, they don't end up poor. This is how families and countries get out of poverty. In fact, no country in the last fifty years has emerged from poverty without expanding access to contraceptives. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 1

Family planning means more than getting the right to decide whether and when to have children; it is the key to breaking through all kinds of barriers that have held women back for so long. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 1

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. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 1

Year by year, with the support and insight of friends and partners and people who have gone before me, I see more clearly that the primary causes of poverty and illness are the cultural, financial, and legal restrictions that block what women can do - and think they can do - for themselves and their children. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 1

According to the policymakers, people in extreme poverty are those living on the equivalent of $1.90 a day. But those numbers don't capture the desperation of their lives. What extreme poverty really means is that no matter how hard you work, you're trapped. You can't get out. Your efforts barely matter. You've been left behind by those who could lift you up. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 2

Poverty is not being able to protect your family. Poverty is 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. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 2

It's a delicate thing to initiate change in a traditional culture. It has to be done with the utmost care and respect. Transparency is crucial. Grievances must be heard. Failures must be acknowledged. Local people have to lead. Shared goals have to be emphasized. Messages have to appeal to people's experience. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 2

In societies of deep poverty, women are pushed to the margins. Women are outsiders. That's not a coincidence. When any community pushes any group out, especially its women, it's creating a crisis that can only be reversed by bringing the outsiders back in. This is the core remedy for poverty and almost any social ill - including the excluded, going to the margins of society and bringing everybody back in. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 2

Ultimately moral questions are personal questions. Majorities don't matter on issues of conscience. No matter what views others may have, I am the one who has to answer for my actions. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 3

Sometimes the best thing a mother can do for her children is not have another child. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 3

I've come to learn that stigma is always an effort to suppress someone's voice. It forces people to hide in shame. The best way to fight back is to speak up - to say openly the very thing that others stigmatize. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 3

It's the mark of a backward society - or a society moving backward - when decisions are made for women by men. That's what's happening right now in the US. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 3

Chapter 4-6 Quotes

Education is a vital step on the path to empowerment for women - a path that starts with good health, nutrition, and family planning and prepares you to earn an income, run a business, form an organization, and lead. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 4

When you send a girl to school, the good deed never dies. It goes on for generations advancing every public good, from health to economic gain to gender equity and national prosperity. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 4

Mothers and fathers who've never achieved their goals can easily plant their own doubts in the minds of their kids. When those doubts get into kids' heads, they're hard to change. People who are the victims of doubt often feel targeted, and the psychologist [...] told me that many students felt that the world not only didn't care about them but was rooting against them. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 4

Great schools don't just teach you; they change you. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 4

Equal education moves people toward empowerment, but unequal education does the reverse. Of all the divisive tools that are used to push people to the margins, unequal education is the most damaging and enduring. Unless there is an explicit effort to include everyone, schools will never be a remedy for exclusion; they will be a cause of it. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 4

Love is the most powerful and underused force for change in the world. You don't hear about it in policy discussions or political debates. But Mother Teresa, Albert Schweitzer, Mohandas Gandhi, Dorothy Day, Desmond Tutu, and Martin Luther King Jr. all did hardheaded, tough-minded work for social justice, and they all put the emphasis on love. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 4

A girl who is given love and support can start to break the self-image that keeps her down. As she gains self-confidence, she sees she can learn. As she learns, she sees her own gifts. As she develops her gifts, she sees her own power; she can defend her own rights. That is what happens when you offer girls love, not hate. You lift their gaze. They gain their voice. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 4

For women who spend all their hours doing unpaid work, the chores of the day kill the dreams of a lifetime. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 5

The unpaid work a woman does in the 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. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 5

If there is any meaning in life greater than connecting with other human beings, I haven't found it. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 5

To care is human - and caring for children or aging parents should be an expression of love. It can offer us some of the most meaningful moments of our lives. But if it’s assumed that women will do all these tasks, then caring that should be joyful becomes a burden, and work that should be shared becomes isolating. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 5

Great wealth can be very confusing. It can inflate and distort your sense of self - especially if you believe that money measures merit. Yet Bill is one of the most grounded people I know, and it comes from a clear perspective about how he came to be where he is. Bill worked incredibly hard and took risks and made sacrifices for his success. But he always understood that there is another ingredient in success, and that is luck - absolute and total luck. When were you born? Who were your parents? Where did you grow up? What opportunities were handed to you? None of us earned those things. They were given to us. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 5

One of the defining features of hierarchy is that you take the powerful and exciting jobs for yourself and impose the crummy tasks on others. That's a purpose of hierarchy. [...] Because what's the point of hierarchy if it's not getting someone else to do what you don't want to do? What is hierarchy but a way to escape your share of the responsibilities? - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 5

I think male dominance is harmful to society because any dominance is harmful: It means society is governed by a false hierarchy where power and opportunity are awarded according to gender, age, wealth, and privilege - not according to skill, effort, talent, or accomplishments. When a culture of dominance is broken, it activates power in all of us. So the goal for me is not the rise of women and the fall of man. It is the rise of both women and men from a struggle for dominance to a state of partnership. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 5

Gender-based violence is one of the most common human rights abuses in the world. It's also the most obvious and aggressive way men try to control women - whether it's rape as a tool of war, or a husband beating his wife, or men in workplaces using sexual violence or bullying to belittle women who are gaining power. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 6

In philanthropy - in contrast to business - it can be hard to know what's working. The grantees and beneficiaries may, for many reasons, tell you things are going well when they're not. Unless you work objectively to measure results, it's easy to keep funding ideas that don't work. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 6

I believe that entrenched social norms that shift society's benefits to the powerful and its burdens to the powerless not only hurt the people pushed out but also always hurt the whole. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 6

The starting point for human improvement is empathy. Everything flows from that. Empathy allows for listening, and listening leads to understanding. That's how we gain a common base of knowledge. 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. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 6

Tradition without discussion kills moral progress. If you're handed a tradition and decide not to talk about it - just do it - then you're letting people from the past tell you what to do. It kills the chance to see the blind spots in the tradition. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 6

Chapter 7-9 Quotes

Gender bias does worldwide damage. It's a cause of low productivity on farms. It's a source of poverty and disease. It's at the core of social customs that keep women down. We know the harm it causes and the good that comes from defeating it - so how should we fight it? Should we fight it law by law, sector by sector, or person by person? I would say "all of the above." - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 7

An all-male, unmarried clergy cannot be expected to have the empathy for women and families that they would have if they were married, or if they were women, or if they were raising children. The result is that men make rules that hurt women. It is always a temptation when you're making rules to put the burden on "the other," which is why a society is more likely to support equality when "the other" is not just sitting next to you at the table as you write the rules, but actually writing them with you. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 7

(On working at Microsoft during the initial days) It was not a place for people who needed a lot of guidance. We were climbing the mountain without a map, and we were building the mountain without instructions. And we were all madly excited about what we could help people do with software. Our customers were just as excited as we were, so the opportunities kept coming. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 8

Being yourself sounds like a saccharine prescription for how to make it in an aggressive culture. But it's not as sweet as it sounds. 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. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 8

When women hear our own voices in another woman's story, our courage grows, and one voice can become a chorus. When it's "he said/she said," the woman can't win. But when it's "he said/she said/she said/she said/she said/she said," transparency has a chance, and light can flood the places where abusive behavior thrives. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 8

An abusive culture, to me, is any culture that needs to single out and exclude a group. It's always a less productive culture because the organization's energy is diverted from lifting people up to keeping people down. It's like an autoimmune disease, where the body sees its own organs as threats and begins attacking them. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 8

It's frustrating to me that women are still facing hostile cultures in many fields today, and I'm especially upset that these issues are keeping women out of the tech industry. These are such exciting jobs. They're fun. They're innovative. They pay well. They have a growing impact on our future, and there are more of them every year. But it's more than that. Tech is the most powerful industry in the world. It's creating the ways we will live our lives. If women are not in tech, women will not have power. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 8

Diversity is the best way to defend equality. If people from diverse groups are not making the decisions, the burdens and benefits of society will be divided unequally and unfairly - with the people writing the rules ensuring themselves a greater share of the benefits and a lesser share of the burdens of any society. - The Moment of Joy, Chapter 8

We're at an infant stage of AI. We don't know all the uses that will be made of it - health uses, battlefield uses, law enforcement uses, corporate uses - but the impact will be profound, and we need to make sure it's fair. If we want a society that reflects the values of empathy, unity, and diversity, it matters who writes the code. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 8

The rules that shape the lives of employees in the workplace today often don't honor the lives of employees outside the workplace. That can make the workplace a hostile place - because it pits your work against your family in a contest one side has to lose. [...] When people are torn between the demands of work and home, it can steal the joy from family life. We need our employers to understand our duties to family, and we want compassion at work when a crisis hits home. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 8

There is a big difference between a loud voice and a strong voice. The loud voice of a man who has no inner life and is a stranger to his own grief is never a voice for justice; it's a voice for self-interest, dominance, or vengeance. Strong male voices for freedom and dignity come from men like Gandhi, King, and Mandela who mastered their pain, gave up on vengeance, and preached forgiveness. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 9

Every society says its outsiders are the problem. But the outsiders are not the problem; the urge to create outsiders is the problem. Overcoming that urge is our greatest challenge and our greatest promise. It will take courage and insight, because the people we push to the margins are the ones who trigger in us the feelings we're afraid of. Isolating others to ease our fears is a deep urge inside all of us. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 9

There will be plenty of resistance, but lasting progress will not come from a power struggle; it will come from a moral appeal. As we bring gender bias out from behind its disguises, more and more men and women will see bias where they hadn't suspected it and will stand against it. That's how we change the norms that hide the biases we were blind to. We see them, and we end them. - The Moment of Lift, Chapter 9

Cited Quotes

Extreme poverty produces diseases. Evil forces hide there. It's where Ebola starts. It's where Boko Haram hides girls. - Hans Rosling, as quoted in The Moment of Lift, Chapter 2

Men won't easily give up a system in which half the world's population works for next to nothing, precisely because that half works for so little, it may have no energy left to fight for anything else. - Marilyn Waring, as quoted in The Moment of Lift, Chapter 5

To be known without being loved is terrifying. To be loved without being known has no power to change us. But to be deeply known and deeply loved transforms us. - K. Killian Noe, as quoted in The Moment of Lift, Chapter 5

When I am hurt, when I am in pain, when I am angry with someone for what they have done to me, I know the only way to end these feelings is to accept them. - Desmond Tutu, as quoted in The Moment of Lift, Chapter 9