Wednesday, September 23, 2015

What-I'm-Reading-Wednesday: A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power by Jimmy Carter

After hearing Doris Kearns Goodwin describe Jimmy Carter as a "good and decent man" on the evening news of August 20th when he announced his cancer diagnosis, I wanted to learn more about his life and The Carter Center he founded in 1982. I chose his 2014 book A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power, but there were 20 other monograph titles written by Carter available at the Ort Library for later reading.

Carter explains, “Waging peace, fighting disease, and building hope are the major themes of The Carter Center, and one of our basic principles is not to duplicate what others are doing or to compete with them.”  (72) Elephantiasis, river blindness and guinea worm are common names for some of the neglected tropical diseases that the Center has fought, and Carter consistently acknowledges that third world women, often the victims of these diseases, are also the necessary agents for their eradication. Throughout his book, Carter demonstrates how his experience as a Georgia peanut farmer helped him to understand and foster projects in Africa to improve public health and agricultural production through the Carter Center.

Carter also deals with international issues of women’s rights and begins by exploring the foundations of most world religions that deny women a status equal to their male counterparts. He highlights those religions that have increased leadership opportunities for women. In its final chapters, Carter uses specific examples and statistics to demonstrate the impact of global violence on women. He includes the genocide of girls in China and India and the violence against women in third world countries in the form of rape, spousal abuse, genital cutting, child brides and honor killings. 

A Call to Action is a book that shares the author’s global view of justice with the reader. He incorporates examples from the lives of his wife and mother to illustrate how to wage peace. He includes quotes from peers who support his defense of the rights of women globally. The prime voice of the book is one of a “good and decent man” issuing a call to the United Nations, the World Bank and other international organizations to address international issues of women’s rights.

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