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A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence,…

A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power

by Jimmy Carter

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An excellent book with a much needed message. Jimmy Carter has long been a strong proponent of women's rights, as well as human rights in general. In this book he not only makes the case for the kinds of changes that need to happen in the world, he also recounts the extensive advocacy work that has been carried out by the Carter Center. This shoud be read by everyone. ( )
  bness2 | May 23, 2017 |
Jimmy Carter calls this "by far the most important" of the 28 books he has authored and it might be the most important book I've read. It's certainly one I plan to re-read as there is more information in this book than I can absorb in one reading.

The book's scope is literally world wide and doesn't leave first world issues unaddressed. Many of the twenty three action points listed at the end of the book apply to issues in the U.S., and cover topics such as domestic violence , campus and military sexual abuse, and the advocation of rehabilitative programs for offenders instead of punitive sentences.

The best summarization I can think of for this book is to quote the first paragraph, “All the elements of this book concerning prejudice, discrimination, war, violence, distorted interpretations of religious texts, physical and mental abuse, poverty, and disease fall disproportionately on women and girls.”

I received this book for free through the Goodreads First Read program
( )
  wandaly | Jun 30, 2016 |
I really liked this book. I liked the global approach to these problems and the way he tied the good and the bad parts of religion into it. It also went a long way to explain why simply educating women gives them greater confidence and ability to demand their rights on their own. For anyone interested in the plight of women globally, this is a must read. ( )
  Calavari | Jun 7, 2016 |
I have to admit that I was somewhat disappointed in this book. I really like Jimmy Carter and all that he has done as an ex-president, but I did not find the book that interesting. I felt like I was already aware of most of the things that he talked about. He also seemed to talk quite a lot about himself, patting himself on the back for everything he has done. So many times a story would start with something like, "no one had addressed this until Rosalyn and I....," or "it wasn't until my presidency that...." I did find his narration about The Elders, a global group of elder statesmen and even a few women, started by Nelson Mandela in 2007 to work toward world peace and human rights, to be very interesting. Also for interesting reading, go to the Global Gender Gap Report, which rates most of the countries of the world as to gender equity in four different areas. Very interesting! ( )
  TheresaCIncinnati | Aug 17, 2015 |
When did black Americans get the right to vote?

If you answer, "1965," you are very cool and we can have a friendly, spirited discussion about whether having "the right" to do something is really a right if you can’t actually act on that right. And we may have to agree to disagree, because technically the late lamented Voting Rights Act was put into place in order to protect the rights already spelled out in the Constitution. But we’ll certainly be cool and groovy together, because you obviously get it.

If you answer "1870," however, I’m going to have to yell and cry and possibly call your mom. Because 1870 is the year the fifteenth amendment was added to the Constitution, and black women were specifically left out of the text of the fifteenth amendment.

The answer to the question "When did black Americans receive a constitutionally guaranteed right to vote?" is "1920." (And yes, you’re right – that effectively only gave white women the right to vote. Black women as a group only got to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed right to vote when the VRA went into effect. Right now, I’m just talking about what was on paper.)

Why am I asking this? Why am I talking like some kind of Constitutional scholar when I’m just a stay-at-home reader who’s trying to review a book that’s already a day overdue at the library?

Because I think we have a bad national – no, make that global – habit of believing that human rights are vitally important and women’s rights are cute if you’re into that kind of thing, but frankly kind of 1. boring, 2. obnoxious, and 3. are we still talking about this?

I have a friend who is kind, educated, worldly, intelligent, well-read, and sophisticated. If asked, she could describe (and deplore) the human rights violations happening every day all over the world – in Syria, Nigeria, Turkey, all over the place.

She noticed I was reading this book and asked how I liked it.

I explained I’d been worried at first that it would be a lightweight work in every sense – it’s barely 200 pages, and has 18 chapters covering every sort of women’s issue you could think of. But I was starting to understand why Carter went ahead and had a lot of short chapters on a lot of important topics. The matters he asks readers to grapple with are sometimes so brutal that really, the important thing is that he’s touching on them at all.

"But he obviously gets it," I concluded. "I mean, I could kiss him just for the fact that he puts the word 'honor' in quotes when he talks about 'honor' killings."

My hip, groovy, compassionate friend looked alarmed. "What are honor killings?" she asked.

And that’s why it’s important that an old white Southern gentleman wrote a book about how religion is used all over the world as an excuse to mistreat women.

Specifically, it’s important that a guy as well-known, old-fashioned, devoutly Christian, and just plain nice as Jimmy Carter decided to write a book like this one. A book with chapter titles such as "The Genocide of Girls" and "Child Marriage and Dowry Deaths" and, yes, "'Honor' Killings."

"Honor" killings cause the death of hundreds of women every single year in Pakistan alone. Women’s rights are human rights because women are quite literally dying for the lack of them.

And the reason my friend hasn’t heard of them is that women’s rights are just not considered important enough to be reported on.

For example:

When the news runs stories about India, the reports tend to focus on economic growth and investment. There are occasional stories of individual cases of individual women suffering horrible fates; but where is the general sense that India is first and foremost a place where it’s just not safe to be female?

Can you imagine reporting on South Africa a few decades ago without making any mention at all of apartheid? South Africa was defined by its institutionalized inequality.

In India, girls are singled out just for being female before they’re even born. And that’s if their parents are wealthy enough to go in for a gender-based abortion. Poorer parents often simply murder their girl-children at birth. And no, this is not just about a few horrible cases. This is what India is like, to the point that there are some areas of the country in which there are only 650 girls for every 1,000 boys.

And that’s just the beginning. Female literacy rates are lower than male rates, because education is much less of a priority for girls than it is for boys. Women in India are routinely expected to endure sexual harassment in public – ever heard of “Eve teasing”? The rape statistics are horrifying. And don’t even get me started on dowry deaths.

So of course when we talk about India, we talk about economic opportunities for investors.

I’m not saying India is the only sexist place in the world. Sadly, that's not even close to being true. I’m saying: all things considered, why is sexism not associated with this country the way racism was with South Africa?

I’m a screaming heathen redhead feminist. It’s easy to dismiss my rageful rantings.

It’s not as easy to brush aside the gentle, earnest anger of a devout and kindly elder statesman like Jimmy Carter.

You may not need to read this book. But I think we should all be glad it’s out there.

And if, like my good friend, you don’t know about so-called “honor” killings – or dowry deaths, or just how widespread gendercide is – you might want to go ahead and grab a copy of this book from the library.

Be warned: it’s short, but it’s not a quick read. Not because the prose is dense – quite the contrary – but just because of the subject matter. I do a decent amount of heavy feminist reading, and I had to take frequent breaks to revisit some very sweet children’s books in the course of reading this book, because otherwise I’d have to scream and cry and throw things. But I’m still glad I read it. ( )
  Deborah_Markus | Aug 8, 2015 |
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"The world's discrimination and violence against women and girls is the most serious, pervasive, and ignored violation of basic human rights: This is President Jimmy Carter's call to action. President Carter was encouraged to write this book by a wide coalition of leaders of all faiths. His urgent report covers a system of discrimination that extends to every nation. Women are deprived of equal opportunity in wealthier nations and "owned" by men in others, forced to suffer servitude, child marriage, and genital cutting. The most vulnerable, along with their children, are trapped in war and violence. A Call to Action addresses the suffering inflicted upon women by a false interpretation of carefully selected religious texts and a growing tolerance of violence and warfare. Key verses are often omitted or quoted out of context by male religious leaders to exalt the status of men and exclude women. And in nations that accept or even glorify violence, this perceived inequality becomes the basis for abuse. President Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, have visited 145 countries, and The Carter Center has had active projects in more than half of them. Around the world, they have seen inequality rising rapidly with each passing decade. This is true in both rich and poor countries, and among the citizens within them. Carter draws upon his own experiences and the testimony of courageous women from all regions and all major religions to demonstrate that women around the world, more than half of all human beings, are being denied equal rights. This is an informed and passionate charge about a devastating effect on economic prosperity and unconscionable human suffering. It affects us all"--… (more)

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