It might have been 15 or 20 years ago when I heard it projected women worldwide would experience acceptance and equality around the year 9,000 and something. That seemed like an interminably long timeline. But that was before the Internet was a household experience bringing the condition of the world, and people who want to make it a better place, just a click away. I am hoping our ease with communication will now revise that timeline downward.
Former President Jimmy Carter’s new book, “A Call to Action—Women, Religion, Violence and Power,” encouraged me with his insight and frank writing. He wrote, “The relegation of women to an inferior or circumscribed status by many religious leaders is one of the primary reasons for the promotion and perpetuation of sexual abuse.” And, “…there is no greater challenge than the full embrace of women’s equal rights by religious leaders, institutions and believers alike.” Among the many shocking statistics Carter presented were 200 – 300 children are sold in Atlanta, GA each month, and if the perpetrators are caught, there is generally a $50.00 fine. The United States ranks 23rd in achieving equal status for women; and America is at the bottom, among industrialized nations, for women dying in child birth despite spending more per average patient. Worldwide there is genocide of girls, rape as a weapon of war; “honor” killings, usually by a male relative of any female only suspected of improprieties or refusing an arrange marriage; genital cutting; child marriage and dowry deaths. Maybe the year 9,000 and something doesn’t seem so incredible after all.
I am grateful to former President Carter for his bold statements on religion and women, and the admission that he, and his wife Rosalynn, left their former church since it did not support the ordination of women. I felt supported for doing likewise. It is so encouraging to know that this former President, and his wife, continue to address serious problems in the world through their Carter Center, especially in areas where there is little other aid. And I am again reminded that the independence I enjoy today is because of other courageous men, women, and elected officials, whose efforts created the Civil Rights Act, with its prohibition of discriminating against women in the workplace.
What if we all voted for the best candidates to make our world a better place for everyone? How much faster would acceptance and equality be achieved?