03/06/2013 03:54 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Positively Disrupting the Global Community

Here at the Gates Foundation, we embrace risk.

We do so because testing big ideas is how we find solutions to some of the world's most pressing problems.

I know firsthand that taking these risks can sometimes stir up controversy.

Last year, in my TEDxChange talk, I argued that providing information about and access to contraceptives should not be controversial, because they empower women and girls to plan their families and offer their children a better future. My talk evoked strong reactions, but I believe it was a necessary disruption.

This idea -- disruption -- is often unwelcome. But some disruption can be a positive -- even vital -- catalyst for change. It can challenge old assumptions and uncover new possibilities.

That is why I am so thrilled about this year's TEDxChange theme of "positive disruption." Speakers from around the world will talk about how they and others have positively disrupted society, agriculture, technology, and communities in ways that make our world a better place.

I am looking forward to welcoming everyone to our global webcast on April 3 so that they can hear firsthand from our impressive lineup of speakers.

  • Our first speaker is Cathleen Kaveny, a legal scholar and theologian. Cathleen made a big impression on me when I attended a session she taught about the intersection of faith and family planning last year. She will offer her unique perspective on reconciling religious traditions and modern life.
  • Next up will be Halimatou Hima, an inspiring young woman I met last July in Niger while she was working at the country's United Nations offices. Her talk will focus on an issue close to my heart: the importance of investing in girls to positively disrupt the course of their lives.
  • Roger Thurow, a journalist and author, will follow with a talk about the role of people and technology in disrupting natural agricultural cycles and the importance of the 1980s Ethiopian famine in shaping his passion and interest in this space.
  • Julie Dixon of Georgetown University's Center for Social Impact Communication will conclude with a talk that explores the permanent disruption of social media on the way people get involved in social causes and how this has the potential to gradually shift traditional models of donor engagement across the non-profit sector.
  • Alongside these inspiring speakers, we are also looking forward to a spoken-word performance from David Fasanya as well as a preview of the movie Revolutionary Optimists, including a brief conversation with some of the children featured in the film.

For the past three years, the Gates Foundation has collaborated with TEDx to bring you TEDxChange, and together we've tried to share ideas worth spreading in the areas of global health and development. One of my favorite things about the TEDxChange experience is the fascinating conversations it sparks around the world.

I hope you will join us on April 3 by watching the program at one of the 150 global satellite events, or following the livestream at

I'm excited to see the positive disruption of our amazing TEDxChange community in action.