jimmy carter gets it right on women … and so does Jodi Mikalachki

Whatever you thought of Jimmy Carter as president, you have to respect his post-presidential work for peace, compassion, and justice. (The same goes for Bill Clinton. Have you wondered what Barack and Michelle Obama will do in the years after 2016?) Here’s a report on the recent statement Carter (and others) made regarding religion-based subjugation of women … the kind of context in which I was raised and in which many of my friends (male and female) still live. Religious communities, like human beings, need to mature … and it’s high time for a change in outlook towards women. (Not to mention many other subjects …)
From the Associated Baptist Press article:

“This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries,” he said. “The male interpretations of religious texts and the way they interact with, and reinforce, traditional practices justify some of the most pervasive, persistent, flagrant and damaging examples of human rights abuses.”
At its worst, Carter said, the belief is used to justify slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But he said discriminatory thinking is also behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why so few women hold public office in the United Kingdom and the United States.
“It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population,” Carter wrote. “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.”

Late addition: Just read this in an email from my friend Jodi Mikalachki in Burundi, affirming Carter’s comment:

President Obama has been in Africa recently, invoking the African blood that runs in his veins as a kind of charter to encourage African leaders (and Africans generally) to recognize that the fate of Africa lies in their own hands. I’m sure he is no less aware than I am that many factors outside African control also have a great impact on the continent (the world financial crisis precipitated by American greed, for instance; the continuing interference of former colonial powers in African politics and economics; the cynical indifference of individuals, corporations, and nations that continue to sell/supply arms to repressive dictators and equally destructive insurgents). But thoughtful Africans themselves are increasingly taking the line that leadership is the continent’s main problem. Personally, I think the greatest impediment to the positive transformation of Africa is the deplorable status of African women and girls. Any continent that consigns half its human resources to back-breaking labor, largely unaddressed sexual violence, and many more (life-threatening) pregnancies than most of them want, is bound to fail. Nothing could do more for Africa than the steady education of girls, and I am experiencing first-hand how very difficult it is to keep them in school once they reach their teens.