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Jimmy Carter: “The Words of God do not Justify Cruelty to Women”

July 16, 2009

Jimmy Carter wrote an awesome op-ed for the Guardian, titled “The Words of God do not Justify Cruelty to Women.” It’s worth reading in its entirety, but here are a few of my favorite sections.

About the impact of sexism on the fabric of our society:

The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for everyone in society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and out-dated attitudes and practices – as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.

On men’s tendency to cling to power:

Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions – all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.

I loved how he linked violence against women in developing nations to the pay gap and political representation of women in the UK and the US. The relationship between these trends should not be overlooked, and we do a disservice to women around the world to hold up our society as the beacon of gender equality, even if we do not have the same repressive laws that oppress women in other parts of the world.

Also, check out The Elders, a group that Jimmy Carter is part of and refers to in his op-ed. From their website: “The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela, who offer their collective influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity.” I think my new dream is to be one of them. Or maybe just to have one of them read my blog. That would be cool too.

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