Melinda Gates on being married to Bill Gates, helping impoverished women, more

on Apr24
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2019-04-23 17:18:35

Lifting up poverty-stricken communities around the world means first lifting up women, Melinda Gates writes in her new book “The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World” (Flatiron Books, $26.99).

Gates, the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes about inspiring women she’s met in Africa, India, the Philippines and elsewhere.

She also describes her feminist evolution, including writing about how her roles as wife and mother evolved at home. The daughter of an engineer and stay-at-home mom, Gates earned a bachelor’s degrees in computer programming and economics and a master’s in business in five years at Duke before joining Microsoft in 1987.

She married principal Microsoft founder Bill Gates on New Year’s Day 1994 and stepped away from the company when she had her first child, which she writes stunned her husband.

Following is a condensed and edited transcript of an interview with her:

QUESTION: Did you struggle with the decision to share stories from inside your marriage?

ANSWER: I am a very private person … so I definitely felt like I was pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. But I thought that was important because, when you are vulnerable, you start to create real connections. So I thought I need to share more of who I am.

Q: You share your story of being in an abusive relationship before Bill.

A: I certainly have never have spoken about my abuse publicly before. And while it’s one page in the book, that felt unbelievably vulnerable to share. But I thought that was important to share because so many women have been through some form of harassment.

Q: I chuckled reading about when Bill started driving one of your daughters to kindergarten, inspiring other wives to ask their husbands to pitch in on morning drop-offs: “If Bill Gates has the time…”  

A: We didn’t quite have it right at first, and I ended up frustrated. . . . So often we assume . . . that stuff falls to the mom. I was trying to show how I had to look at these issues, and I had to name my truth to my husband for us to be able to change… I think people must think, “Oh, well, Melinda must not really have equality with Bill.” Actually, I have total equality with Bill. But it took awhile for us to get there.

Melinda Gates on her relationship with husband Bill Gates: “Actually, I have total equality with Bill. But it took awhile for us to get there.” | AP

Q: How have you handled criticism from the Catholic church over your push for international access to birth control?

A: It’s the greatest anti-poverty tool we have, and yet we’re not delivering it to women.

I knew I was going to be criticized, but … I had to say to myself, “What do I believe?”

I had a feeling the Catholic church would come out and say something against me… But I was prepared for it because I knew what I truly believed.


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