There is a very funny scene  in the 1980 film Airplane! that speaks to the current assumptions about what the West thinks is best for developing nations.
The movie features a young couple, Ted and Ellen, who visit the fictitious “Malombo” tribe in Africa as Peace Corps volunteers.
Instead of focusing on practical solutions that might best help the tribe to which they are assigned, the couple spends time introducing Western solutions that, while well-meaning, completely overlook the real needs of the people. For example, Ellen hosts a Tupperware party for the women of the village to help them “stretch” their food dollars and to “keep hot dog buns fresh for up to a month.”
The cognitive dissonance in the scene is, of course, part of the humor, but it also draws a bead on the mixture of ignorance and arrogance that has defined much of what passes as Western “aid” to developing countries.
Like this idealistic young couple in Airplane! Melinda Gates, the wife of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, seems to have her heart in the right place. She has a love for the poor and a genuine desire to relieve the suffering of others. She understands the influence that her position in society brings.
Unfortunately, Gates’ primary solution to the problems plaguing African and other developing countries is no better (and often a great deal worse) than Tupperware: Gates is strident in promoting widespread use of artificial contraceptives, as she argues in her new book, The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World.
Gates’ argument for contraception is experienced-based. She holds that contraception is the primary path for women to freedom and equality and cites her own success as a career woman “to work and have the time to take care of each” of her and Bill Gates’ three children, who are precisely spaced three years apart.
Moreover, she says that when it comes to contraception, “no woman I knew went without it.” If Western women are healthy, educated and powerful — a packet of adjectives she comes back to frequently — Gates reasons that such benefits are a result of unlimited access to contraception.