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

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

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by Jimmy Carter

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In the highly acclaimed bestselling A Call to Action, President Jimmy Carter addresses the world’s most serious, pervasive, and ignored violation of basic human rights: the ongoing discrimination and violence against women and girls.

President Carter was encouraged to write this book by a wide coalition of leaders of all faiths. His urgent reportSee more details below

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In the highly acclaimed bestselling A Call to Action, President Jimmy Carter addresses the world’s most serious, pervasive, and ignored violation of basic human rights: the ongoing discrimination and violence against women and girls.

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 and 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.

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Former U.S. president Carter here responds to a pervasive denial of equal rights to women, which he believes causes tangible harm to both sexes. He writes that many manifestations of gender discrimination result from incorrect interpretations of religious texts to justify a belief that men and boys are superior to women and girls. Carter methodically identifies the many ways in which women suffer discrimination and violence, providing specific examples from around the world about everything from wage discrimination, genital cutting, and child marriage to poor health care, inadequate prenatal care, and honor killing (the murder of a member of a family by another member defended by the belief that the victim's actions were disgraceful to the family). He writes to raise people's consciousness and hopes that readers will be moved to support efforts to diminish women's suffering. In one example, Carter tells how an educated Afghani woman was forced to marry a man many years older than she who then proceeded to abuse and terrorize her with threats of violence against her and her family. Although that story has a positive outcome, Carter explains that it was only because she had connections to international leaders who were able to remove her from the situation; he laments that most women are not so fortunate. Many of the narratives conclude with information about successful programs or dedicated leaders who offer solutions to the problems described. VERDICT Women's studies scholars and readers interested in international human rights may find these accounts of discrimination and abuse disturbing but should be challenged to respond to Carter's call for action.—Jill Ortner, SUNY Buffalo Libs.
Huffington Post
“When reading A Call to Action, I got the sense that this is a man who has spent nine decades advocating for women and will continue to do so until his last breath. He is a man on a mission, listing 23 challenges he and The Carter Center are determined to work on for the betterment of women. He demonstrates how he used his influence throughout his lifetime to push women’s rights forward . . . Carter’s book overwhelms as well as inspires.”
A Call to Action ends with a list of recommendations to ameliorate the condition of women and girls worldwide, such as having more women in higher public office and involving religious scholars to give a more forward-looking interpretation to their faiths. It is this commitment to a progressive religious outlook that makes Carter almost a lone voice in U.S. politics.”
Morning Call (PA)
“[Carter] wrote his book with deep knowledge, insight and compassion…Indeed, it is time to wake up.”
The Daily Beast
A Call to Action enhances [Carter’s] role as elder statesman and human rights warrior by focusing entirely on the enslavement, degradation, and torture that women endure around the world. . . . an important book that should serve as a reference guide and instructional manual for dealing with the atrocities against women.”
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“A tour de force of the global abuse and manipulation of women, including statistics that will stun most readers with details that cannot be ignored…The scope of the material is astounding…Mr. Carter's A Call to Action should not only be required reading in America, but should also serve as the template for a complete reinterpretation of the religious views behind our treatment of each other, to discover what he claims is the true meaning behind the miracle of creation.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
A Call to Action reinforces his dedication to wiping out injustice—and his ability to move others to join his cause.”
Kirkus Reviews
The former president and indefatigable humanitarian writes again, this time linking worldly woes that "fall disproportionately on women and girls." Women suffer all sorts of indignities in the world: rape in war, sexual slavery, lower pay for equal or greater work than men, and endless other forms of abuse and discrimination. Carter's (NIV Lessons from Life Bible: Personal Reflections with Jimmy Carter, 2012, etc.) philanthropic institution/think tank, the Carter Center, now considers "the deprivation and abuse of women and girls" to be a greater overarching problem than economic disparity, though there are linkages. Further, writes the author, the problem is not merely restricted to the developing world. China, for instance, has made huge strides and is by some indexes more egalitarian in these matters than the United States, though, Carter adds judiciously, there remains the pesky problem of infanticide and abortion to cull females in favor of male offspring. The gender-related problems the author identifies are so broad and pervasive that they sometimes seem to have little in common other than that they adversely affect women. Carter's long list of solutions is common-sensical, if sure to tick off the patriarchy: Encourage activism that works toward equality, prosecute customers and not prostitutes, and so forth. Too often, the book seems a mashup of distantly related white papers, and it does not help that Carter binds them with folksy memoir-izing ("I was always reluctant to let other young men know that I was a virgin, feeling that it was somehow a reflection on my manhood. I have come to realize that societal standards—at least in the Western world—are much different from what I knew as a youth, but there is still a sharp difference between those that apply to boys and those that apply to girls." The overall effect is one of well-meaning but fuzzy prescription, less rigorous than this difficult subject requires.

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Simon & Schuster
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