No matter what you thought of President Jimmy Carter she he was in office, there is little doubt that he is one of the most active Presidents in recent history, having gotten involved in human rights, helping the homeless, various diplomatic ventures at the request of sitting Presidents, and so forth.
His latest venture, and one he recently called his greatest and most important venture in an interview on Public TV today, is all about the prevention of violence against and the advancement of the rights of women worldwide.
He cited some amazing statistics.
Worldwide, over 800,000 women and girls are traded as slaves internationally.
In the US, over 600,000 women and girls are traded as sex slaves.
In this generation, over 60 million female babies have been killed, either in abortions or as born babies, because their parents wanted a boy. Most of those in either China or India.
There was more, but I got kind of overloaded at that point.
He is promoting a new book of his, just released, entitled, ""A Call To Action", which urges the end of discrimination and abuse against women, calling it the number one challenge in the world today. The book builds on the work of faith leaders and courageous human rights defenders who met last summer at The Carter Center to mobilize faith groups worldwide to commit to advancing women's rights. Religion, they said, should be a force for equality and human dignity not oppression.
Obviously, I disagree with them on that point - while it should, it rarely is, and I think the ones who are implicitly involved in oppressing women aren't likely to join any efforts in bringing their activities to a halt.
There is no doubt he is correct, and this country is one of the worse of the First World industrialized nations in the oppression business. It is also getting worse, as the Republican Party does everything it can to make it worse.
Go visit the links. One is to the website of The Carter Center, where the book and the subject it is written about are detailed, and the other is the amazon page where you can buy it, right now.
I fully support his efforts, as I am appalled every single time I read about this subject and remember how hard the Republicans in this country are working to set women's rights back as far as they can.
I will add my own point as well. You know what is coming, don't you?
While I applaud his efforts to involve religious groups in this, and it is obviously the fastest way to get established groups actively involved, I am somewhat disappointed that he seems to have left out secular movements or simply groups which have no religious affiliations.
Obviously, I believe that religion is the prime mover in the oppression of women. As his page noted briefly, religions do employ specific texts in their holy books to justify such oppression, and the ones who do such are not likely to join his efforts, and will, in fact, do everything they can to resist. It is valuable for him to try to enlist the more liberal religious groups in his efforts, as they can employ their own theological counterpoints in fighting this terrible scourge, but I see it as a temporary fix. These efforts will not bear widely recognized fruit until religion worldwide begins to be pushed back and denied the political influence to continue this oppression.
Nevertheless, to have as public and as widely respected (worldwide!) figure as Jimmy Carter get behind this issue and begin to push for progress is impressive indeed, and very, very welcome!
As many people as possible need to get on board with this. Women everywhere need to begin to push back. Push against governments, push against churches, push against the politicians who back this backwards agenda of oppressive nonsense.
And don't let up.
Robert W Ahrens
The Cybernetic Atheist