Community & Government

Identify Barriers to Break Them Down

Melinda French Gates

Lesson time 11:45 min

Melinda describes the types of barriers that may arise in your endeavors, and ways to think strategically about how to break them down.

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Topics include: Listening is Crucial to a True Understanding• Ask: Why Does This Barrier Exist?• Delivery Systems Matter


[MUSIC PLAYING] - In this chapter, I'm going to talk about barriers and strategic ways you might break them down. I would say you're going to encounter barriers, more than likely, in your giving. And I think one of your roles is to think strategically about how to bring them down. But the only way to do that is not by sitting in your home or sitting in your office at your computer thinking up an idea. It's to talk with people who are living those lives and partners in the field who've seen it and can help you devise solutions. Have others help you define those strategies and those solutions that will bring the barriers down. [MUSIC PLAYING] You need to understand barriers in people's lives to understand whether they're going to be able to take up something new or change something that you're actually asking them to change. I think, if you listen, and you particularly listen to the people who are going to be the recipients of your giving, whatever type of giving you're doing, you will start to hear the barriers that hold them back. So for instance, when I first got involved in working on women's issues, I could see it in low-income countries, but I didn't understand it, which is how much unpaid labor women do every single day in their life. And when they do that unpaid labor, whether it's caring for a child or cooking the meal, it keeps them, perhaps, or quite often, from doing something else they want to do. And I had to listen and learn about that, because it turns out, it affects women all over the world, even women, for sure, here in the United States. [MUSIC PLAYING] Some of the barriers you might face in your giving and that you'll come up against are things like stigma, funding, location of the service, gender bias, religion, dogma, not finding like-minded partners. All of those are pieces that you may run up against. But I promise you, other people have run up against these too. And there are ways to take down and break down those barriers. But be patient. Sometimes it takes time. When you come up against a barrier, you need to really look at it and talk to a lot of people in the community to understand why is that barrier there, what's it like, and what are their ideas, their community ideas for taking down the barrier. It's so important to investigate barriers with a curious mind. Cultural norms, traditions, and religions, for example, play a really important role in people's lives. But sometimes, it's the interpretation of those norms that can be a barrier, for example, in the case of contraceptives. One of the barriers that I had known existed in some countries in Africa was a religious barrier. And in fact, there were many that I would meet in villages who would say, oh, no the Quran doesn't allow for family planning. But what I did was I went and met with the head of some of these religious organizations. And they said, no, actually, family planning is allowed in the Quran....

About the Instructor

One of the greatest philanthropists in history, Melinda French Gates has dedicated her life to giving back to the world. Now she’s teaching how you can identify your own unique assets—time, money, specific skills, or even your voice to discover a strategic path that can turn your power into progress.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Melinda French Gates

A philanthropist and advocate for women and girls, Melinda French Gates teaches you how to take what you’re good at and use it to create change.

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