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VOA Africa Division’s Linord Moudou spoke to Melinda Gates about women’s empowerment, work in Africa, the work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and how men can benefit from women’s empowerment. The interview also touched on the pay gap between men and women and the anti-vaccination movement.
Q: Melinda Gates, thank you so much for joining us on the Voice of America.
Melinda Gates: Thanks for having me.
Q: You just released a book, The Moment of Lift. First of all, you are well known as a accomplished businesswoman and a philanthropist. Why was it important for you to become an author and write this book?
Gates: Well, I have met so many women and families over 20 years of foundation travels to many, many, many countries, and the stories these women have shared with me about their lives have called me to action. And I wanted to write a book that would call others to action, because I believe that equality can’t wait. When we make women equal in society, it lifts up their family and society, and we need to make sure that we really get to equality for women all over the world.
Q: So when we talk about equality for women, how would you describe it? What are some of the basic steps?
Gates: To me, equality for women shows up when they have their full voice and their full decision-making authority in their home, in their community and in their workplace. If we can make sure women have that, you will have true equality in society for all women.
Q: So, why did you think of this title, The Moment of Lift? What is the moment?
Gates: Well, when I was a little girl my dad was an Apollo engineer, and he worked on that first mission that went up to space, and my sister and I would get to be in our jammies late at night, watching that that rocket take off. And I love that moment when the engines were ignited, and the Earth was shaking and rumbling, and that rocket would lift off against the forces of gravity that pushed it down, and head off to the moon. And I thought about women. I have thought about all the barriers that hold us down in various societies, and if we could remove those barriers, we would get this moment of lift for women and men all over the world.
Q: And let’s talk about some of those barriers. You’ve traveled around the world, working and empowering women and girls. What are some of the commonalities you were able to see, to witness?
Gates: Well, I see so many women that if we allow them, as a world, to have access to contraceptives, what we know from society after society around the world is once a woman has access to contraceptives, she can time and space the births of her children. She can continue her education, she can work in the workforce if she chooses, her kids are healthier, she’s healthier, the family’s wealthier and better educated. So that barrier — every society has to make the transition through contraceptives first. If women have access to contraceptives, and their kids and they have good health, the next barrier you have to remove is education. Because when women are educated, it changes absolutely everything in their family, and even the decisions they make and what they go do in the world.
Q: So you went to an all-girls Catholic high school. So did I, actually. And one of the things I can remember is contraceptives are not a part of discussion — not very often, at least. So what prompted you to really turn your interest into enabling women to have access to contraceptives, as well as family planning? Why is it such an important part of your work?
Gates: Yes, so I was meeting so many women around the world, and I would be there to talk about vaccinations for their children, which they were thrilled to talk about. They said, “You know, I walk 10 kilometers in the heat to get them. I know the difference.” But when I turn the questions and let them ask questions of me, they would say, “But what about my health? What about that contraceptive that, at this little clinic, I can get vaccines and I used to be able to get contraceptives and now I can’t?” And it was through these rallying calls for women saying, “Why isn’t the world allowing us to have these anymore?” that I came to learn and realize the difference they make in women’s lives. And 200 million women are asking us as a world for contraceptives. It’s a very inexpensive tool. We use it in the United States. More than 90% of women use it in the United States and in Europe, and yet if we don’t allow women to have that tool, [if] we don’t provide it, they can’t lift themselves out of poverty. And so I started to realize that was a really important piece of the work.
Q: And you say in the book, as you work to empower women, others have empowered you. How so?
Gates: I think by other women sharing the stories of their lives. I would often be coming back from various countries in Africa — Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Senegal — and as I was flying home I kept thinking of all these barriers I would see holding women down in Africa. And I would think, “If women could only have this barrier removed or that.” But it was then their stories that helped me turn the question back on the U.S. and say, “How far are we really in the United States?” OK, we’ve made some distance, but less than 25% of people in Congress are women. Less than 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. If a woman wants to start a business in the United States, less than 2% of venture capital funding goes to women-led businesses. So they helped me see what needs to get done around the world, not just in their own countries and where we can help and intervene, but really in our own country, too, in the United States.
Q: So you talked about stories of women in the book. You also bring some of your stories in the book, and you are known to be a private woman. Why was it so important for you to share your own stories? You talk about abuse and other stories — why did you do that?
Gates: Yes. So in this book, even though I’m incredibly private, I decided to be pretty vulnerable, quite vulnerable. That was not an easy decision, but I do. I share stories of my own personal journey because they are the stories, also, of millions of other women. So this story that I do tell of abuse that I experienced — it silenced me. I lost my self-confidence. And we know millions of women around the world are in relationships where they’re being abused. Women tell me about it when I go in villages. I hear about sexual harassment in the workplace in many places in the United States. It’s a spectrum, but any type of harassment holds a woman back. It pushes her back into her corner and she doesn’t get her voice or she doesn’t feel confident to take a decision. So I choose to share a story like that, and my own climb to equality, to let everyone know it is possible.
Q: I would like to read something from the book. You write, “The first time I was asked if I was a feminist, I didn’t know what to say because I didn’t think of myself as a feminist. Twenty-two years later, I am an ardent feminist.” Feminism is a word that is celebrated by some and makes others cringe, even some women. So, what is feminism to you? How are you a feminist?
Gates: Feminism is when a woman has her full voice, and her full decision-making authority wherever she is in her life, in her home, in her community and in her workplace. If she has her voice and can take any decision, then she is fully empowered. And if you believe that, then you are feminist, in my opinion.
Q: Great. Now, the work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has impacted the world. And particularly, you have worked on the continent of Africa. More than $15 billion has been invested in projects related to Africa. Would you tell us about the impact that you were able to see that has really transformed people’s lives?
Gates: Yes, so the foundation has been in existence now for over 20 years. I think the most important thing for everybody to know is we work in partnership. There is nothing the foundation has ever done without being in full partnership with others, and particularly with governments and citizens on the ground in various countries. And philanthropy is just — all it can be is this catalytic wedge. We can try things; we can experiment where you wouldn’t want a government to do that with taxpayer money. But if we can prove things out and measure it, then we can ask government to scale it up. And so I think one of the foundation’s biggest successes has been in vaccinations. Why is childhood death down, cut in half since 1990? Two enormous reasons: vaccinations and malarial bed nets. And we’re part of two large-scale partnerships to try — that we have done, worked on — to scale up vaccines, in many countries in Africa and all over the world, and to make sure that malaria bed nets through the Global Fund are distributed.
Q: So speaking of vaccinations, vaccines have helped the world get rid certain diseases, like smallpox. Today we see a resurgence of measles. And one of the reasons is because some parents in the United States refused to vaccinate their children. How does it make you feel?
Gates: When I hear that there are cases of measles in the United States, I’m incredibly frustrated. And I’m saddened to think that a global health issue that we have solved in the United States has come back because parents have believed misinformation. And, you know, no child should have measles in this country. No person who is in an immune-compromised situation in the United States should be affected by someone else because a parent has chosen not to get the measles vaccine. These are lifesaving tools. Women tell me all over Africa they walk 10 miles in the heat to get vaccines because it saves their children’s lives. So I’m saddened to see this in the United States and I hope it makes people realize how lucky we are to have vaccines in our country.
Q: Now, working on the African countries, on the African continent, as well as other countries in the world, there are some changes that cannot occur without abandoning certain cultural practices and beliefs. So how do you get people to embrace new ideas in such circumstances?
Gates: Well, everywhere we work, for instance, on the continent of Africa, you know, each country is different and then there are many, many cultures inside of each country. So what you can do, the way to work, is to go — or what we’ve chosen to do — is to work with partners who’ve been on the ground often 30 or 40 years, living with villagers, and people from the community are part of those partners. And what you do is you come in and see where the community’s at, what they’re trying to learn, what their requests and needs are, and then you start to bring in some education — educating around the things they care about and some education about tools we have here in the United States, like contraceptives. And when you’re in a trusting relationship where the villagers start to believe and understand some of the education you’ve brought in, they will start to ask for those tools. And so we do all of our work in that cultural context, [that] hopefully appropriate way.
Q: So to go back to the family planning — why is it so important? What is the message behind family planning?
Gates: Family planning is the greatest anti-poverty tool we have in the world. When a woman can time and space the births of her children, her family is healthier — her entire family — the kids are better educated, and the family is wealthier. And I met a woman named Marianne in Korogocho — in a slum, actually, in Kenya — and she summed up this family planning conversation that we’d had. There’s about 30 women there, and at the end, after two hours, she finally said — she had this beautiful baby girl in her arms, a newborn — and she said, “I want to give every good thing to this child — before I have another one.” And I thought, “Yeah. That sums up how parents feel about their children.” We want to time and space when we have children, so we can bring every good thing to our child, and then have another one.
Q: So what do you say to men in countries where women are treated unequally?
Gates: We go in and work with partners, and we say to men, “If you want your children to be healthy, you need to think about certain things that your wife is doing — the amount of unpaid labor she does, the amount she chops wood, carries water, cooks the meals — and if you’re willing to think about that and to take some of that burden away from her, she will actually be better off and your kids will be better off.” And the only way to do that is to, again, work with partners who are from the community and on the ground, and then have the village look at the tasks that women and men do, have an open conversation over time about that, and then commit to change. And when you do that — I’ve actually seen this in Malawi — the men become champions. They say, “My gosh, my whole house has changed because I’m carrying water now and my wife isn’t, or I’m chopping the firewood, and she has more time for these other things.” And so that’s a conversation we need to have all over the world. Even in the United States, women do 90 minutes more of what we call this “unpaid labor” in our homes [per day] than men do. Some of it is loving, caring work we want to do, caring for our loved ones, but some of it is just chores, right? And so we need to look at that 90 minutes, even in the U.S. — or six hours more that a woman does every day in India versus her husband — and say, “How do we redistribute the workload so women can do other things in the productive work they want to do in their lives?”
Q: Do you see a world where unpaid labor will become maybe something more valued for women who are doing it?
Gates: Absolutely. It needs to. I mean, when we think of what paid labor is and unpaid labor, we didn’t for a long time even measure this unpaid labor, and that’s because — let’s go back in time: Economists were predominantly men. It’s a very male-dominated field. So they chose to measure what they knew, which was productive labor. But I would tell you, and what I see from the research, is that our economies are built on the backs of this unpaid labor that women do all over the world. That is also productive. We want somebody taking care of the kids. We want things to happen in our homes. But men and women need to look at that, and I am so encouraged by this next generation that I see who’s coming up, where many young men, particularly in the United States and in Europe, have been raised under moms who work. So the way they look at the work in the home is, they know when they come into the partnership or the marriage, they’re going to do half the work.
Q: So speaking of the next generation and men, while empowering women and girls, what is the message to boys and young men? Will men now feel marginalized when they see all this movement around empowering girls?
Gates: What I would say to everyone in the world is that equality can’t wait. Our societies are better off when we have equality. Men will actually tell you — I’ve met men in Kenya and Tanzania and Malawi who’ve done this looking at the redistribution of labor in their homes; I meet men in the United States who say, “Hey, I’m actually helping do things I didn’t do before” — and what they start to see is they’re happier, their families are happier, their wife is happier. And what I’ve learned from men around the world, they’ll say — particularly in countries that have paid family medical leave for a long time, like Sweden — they say, “I want to be there at the birth of my child and to take care of my child. I want to participate in that, and my society values it, and so we have paid family medical leave so I can take care of the kids or take care of my aging parents.” And to me that’s enlightened men, and that makes a better society.
Q: And now before we wrap two more questions. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, along with partners and other organizations, has invested lots of resources and money in various programs to help developing countries, yet we still see a lot of suffering, whether it’s in health or other areas. Why does it seem like there is a gap between the amount of assistance out there and the number of people who die from preventable diseases?
Gates: I think — I know there’s still people dying of preventable diseases, and every one of those lives, what I want people to know is it’s a tragedy. And when there is generosity from the developed world, in conjunction with African nations putting in some of their own taxpayer monies, you start to move societies forward. And so in the United States, less than 1% of our foreign aid budget goes to countries all over the world. And what you do is you create peace and stability in those places and families lift themselves up. And so what I want people to know is we need to continue to make those investments, because many of these deaths or these diseases, those are needless health emergencies in a family, and they affect families.
Q: And finally, how does empowering women change the world? What is the takeaway from the book?
Gates: If you empower women, they empower everybody else around them. And so if we want healthy societies, we lift up all women. And the goal is not just equality. The goal is a better human race with more connection, and that’s the message of the book.
Q: Melinda Gates, thank you so much for your time.
Gates: Thank you. (VOA)
OṀ KALMASHARAHITABHŨMYAI NAMAH:
OṀ (AUM) -KAL-MA-SHA-RA-HI-TA-BHOO-MYAI— NA-MA-HA
ॐ कल्मषरहितभूम्यै नमः
(Kalmasham: Tainted, blemish, dirty, sinful, wicked, foul, dosha, opprobrium, stigma; Rahita: Absent, devoid of)
Kalmasham is the opposite of purity; it means impure, contaminated and defective. The word is used in several senses such as: defective, fault, sin, dosham, tainted, vice, crime, disrespect, abuse, evil and contamination. However, it is also used in a technical sense in certain fields of knowledge. In Vedic literature we see words like pavitram, and pavitrata in the opposite sense of kalmasham. We, as Hindus, see everything as pure and equitable with God in an implied meaning that every atom at the microscopic level is part of the Supreme Power (Bhagavān). Having this knowledge and understanding, Hindus see the presence of God in living as well as non-living objects and have a pavitra meaning- kalmasharahita bandham.
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In Vedas and Purāṇās, Lord Shri Ramachandra Murty is portrayed without any defects and His marriage with Sīta was described as kalmasharahitam. He was glorified as the one who strictly observed the 'ekapatnī vratam' meaning-'one wife as a life partner'. Even when Sīta was abducted by the demon- Rāvaṇa and he kept her in his palace for a year, Rama did not look at another woman. The same credit goes to His consort and wife Sīta, who came out of Agni (pyre of fire) as a shining diamond proving her chastity and kalmasharahitam to the world. Our sacred literature is full of these incidents. Our dharmaśhāstrās explain that what is kalmasham is that which brings defection to one's purity. They advise purity in our thought, speech and actions.
God Ram and Goddess SitaGetty Pictures
There are many relationships we have as an individual. Some are pure and kalmasharahitam, as opposed to other relationships, like extramarital affairs. The relationship between husband and wife; brother and sister; father and daughter; parents and children; between siblings; teacher and student; among friends; and last but not least, between a devotee and his desired, beloved and personal god are considered kalmasharahitam.
ALSO READ: Celebrate Holi In The Land Of Krishna
As a country, we have never waged war against another country with the intention of occupancy and robbing their wealth, or to convert them to our religion. We do not have that kalmasham on our hands or in our hearts.
Our land is 'Kalmasharahita Bhūmi'.
Xander Schauffele held off the late challenges from the chasing pack, none more so than Rory Sabbatini of Slovakia — who got without a single stroke of the American — to win a gold medal in the men's individual golf tournament at the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.
It was a huge victory for the 27-year-old at this point of his career. Despite often being amongst the favorites in the latest golf odds, the San Diego-native is yet to win one of golf's four majors — The Open, The Masters, The USPGA and The US Open — and he will certainly be hoping that he can use this triumph in Tokyo to push on next season.
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With nine top-10 finishes in 18 appearances at the majors, six of which have been inside the top five (including finishing second at the 2018 Open and 2019 Masters), Schauffele is making a bit of name for himself as a nearly man in the sport's biggest tournaments, and that it is a duck he will certainly be hoping to break sooner rather than later.
Whilst not a major, winning an Olympic gold medal in golf is not to be sniffed at, and it is the kind of victory that the 27-year-old might just have needed to give him that boost to kick on and finally get his hands on one of the major trophies — even though he will need to wait until next year as the recent Open at Royal St. George's in Kent marked the end of this year's major schedule.
Some golfer's may have played down winning the men's tournament at the Olympics, but for Schauffele, whose grandparents live in Tokyo, taking the gold medal back to the United States with him was at the very top of his priority list.
Olympic GameGetty Pictures
"I really wanted to win for my dad. I am sure he is crying somewhere right now. I kind of wanted this one more than any other," Schauffele said after his one-stroke victory.
"You are trying to represent your country to the best of your ability and then you add family stuff on top of that. I'm probably going to have a nice call with my grandparents tonight.
"Everyone is back home watching. I was feeling the love from San Diego and Las Vegas this whole time. I'm a little speechless right now, quite honestly."
Form and momentum are key in the game of golf, and whilst this is a victory that has come somewhat late in the season, when there are no majors left to vie for, if Schauffele can just carry on playing at the top of his game for the remaining month or so, perhaps even landing a second TOUR Championship in the last tournament of 2021, which he will now likely be tipped to win on the best golf predictions sites, then there is no reason why he can't bring his current form with him into next season.
The Masters is up first, taking place in mid-April, and the prestigious Augusta National hasn't been too bad to the American over the last couple of years, as he finished second in 2019 before scuppering the same position late on to finish tied for third this year. If he can keep up the form that resulted in him winning gold at the Olympics, then he may just find himself being fitting into that sought-after Green Jacket.
It's fair to say that it's only a matter of time before Schauffele lands his maiden major triumph, and there's no doubt that scooping a gold medal at the Olympics will have only helped his cause!
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Today, e-learning is one of the best alternatives for studying despite quarantine restrictions. Still, it has its own flaws, which are noticeable during the long-term experience. From one point, students learn to be independent and prepare their homework without extra help. Usually, everyone can buy essays for sale online and prepare for classes efficiently. And from the other point, online learning demands the highest responsibility. Let's find out why the face-to-face educational process is still more productive.
1. Too many distractions.
Needless to say that staying at home and learning are the biggest incompatibilities. When you get ready for your class, you often forget about how clean your house is or whether you have enough food for the day. In e-learning, the reality is that students should take care not only of the studying process but housekeeping as well.
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2. Not enough help from teachers.
The teacher's work during e-learning is to present the material and make it easy to understand. Still, this might be challenging for both sides. When the teacher sees that most students can get along with it, it is easier to pay attention to one or two from class who hasn't progressed much. Otherwise, while the subject is difficult for most of the class, it is almost impossible to dedicate attention to each while explaining the material better.
3. Less communication.
That feeling that you are far away from your friends can't leave you. Even if you don't have enough time to build strong friendships, studying in class helps students gain better results. Healthy competition plays a significant role in education, and everyone who stands for e-learning only should consider this aspect.
4. Access to online materials only.
When students write their texts or work on other assignments, they need to have more than Wikipedia. Studying in campus libraries is much more fun than sitting in one place to look for necessary information. Beside the traditional references, you can get feedback on your drafts.
Less movement with e-learning brings both positives and negatives in students' lifestyles.Getty pictures
5. Lack of individual approach.
E-learning is all about individual learning. Indeed, you can connect to your teacher or classmates online, but still, the schedule makes strict boundaries that you can't text or call them in late at night. When students are in class, a teacher can spread their attention to the whole audience and see how every student perceives material simultaneously.
6. Staying mostly at home.
Less movement with e-learning brings both positives and negatives in students' lifestyles. On the one hand, you don't need to spend hours driving on public transport or being stuck in traffic. And also, you don't have that vital time to prepare your mind for studying. On the road, we listen to audiobooks or read traditional ones, observe life, and think about further studies. This is the way our brain gets ready for classes, so it is less stressful for students to learn when they arrive at class.
7. Higher electricity bill.
Yeah, paying more for internet and electricity consumption is one more disadvantage of e-learning. When you study in class, you can use a public school Wi-Fi connection and charge your laptop in there as well. And while staying at home, you need to think about how much time you spend studying not to increase your electricity bill. Even if you pay for an Internet connection even when you don't study at home, electricity use significantly increases while you start e-learning.
Due to current epidemic measurement restrictions, many schools consider e-learning as one of the best variants to make education available for everyone. Still, e-learning can be a challenging affair for most students and teachers. To cope with it, they need to achieve new skills and apply them to the new reality.
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