President Carter's Listicle to Advance Women

By Maggie Freleng

According to Former President Carter, the number one challenge in the world today is the discrimination and abuse against women.

Indeed, a few weeks ago, he called violence against women the "worst and most pervasive and unaddressed human rights violation on Earth."   

His new book, "A Call to Action," delves into slavery, genital cutting, infanticide, child marriage, rape honor killings, and economic and social deprivation that happen worldwide.

In this country, the big problem he tackles is rape: according to statistics, one in four women in the U.S. have survived rape or attempted rape.

In an interview with HuffPost Live, Carter pointed out that right here in the U.S., sexual assault and abuse are prevalent in two of our most "revered" institutions: universities and the military.

In fact, he noted that "sexual abuse, sexual assaults take place more on university campuses than anywhere else in America." And it's on the rise.

According to CNN, the annual campus security report from Penn State listed 56 forcible sex offences on its main campus in 2012, which is more than double the number of sex offenses reported for the previous year and 14 times the number reported in 2010.

(See our VITAMIN W list of "10 Best Co-ed Colleges for Women," including rankings for sexual assault prevention.)

In an effort to bring attention to the issues, Carter’s new book, "A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power," discusses the prevalence of discrimination and violence against women, as well as offering 23 steps that can help blaze the road to progress.

1. Encourage women and girls, including those not abused, to speak out more forcefully. It is imperative that those who do speak out are protected from retaliation.

2. Remind political and religious leaders of the abuses and what they can do to alleviate them.

3. Encourage these same leaders to become supporters of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and other U.N. agencies that advance human rights and peace.

4. Encourage religious and political leaders to relegate warfare and violence to a last resort as a solution to terrorism and national security challenges.

5. Abandon the death penalty and seek to rehabilitate criminals instead of relying on excessive incarceration, especially for nonviolent offenders.

6. Marshal the efforts of women officeholders and first ladies, and encourage involvement of prominent civilian women in correcting abuses.

7. Induce individual nations to elevate the end of human trafficking to a top priority, as they did to end slavery in the nineteenth century.

8. Help remove commanding officers from control over cases of sexual abuse in the military, so that professional prosecutors can take action.

9. Apply title IX protection for women students, and evolve laws and procedures in all nations to reduce the plague of sexual abuse on university campuses.

10. Include women's rights specifically in new U.N. Millennium Development Goals.

11. Expose and condemn infanticide of baby girls and selective abortion of female fetuses.

12. Explore alternatives to battered women's shelters, such as installing GPS locators on male abusers, and make police reports of spousal abuse mandatory.

13. Strengthen U.N. and other legal impediments to ending genital mutilation, child marriage, trafficking, and other abuses of girls and women.

14. Increase training of midwives and other health workers to provide care at birth.

15. Help scholars working to clarify religious beliefs on protecting women's rights and nonviolence, and give activists and practitioners access to such training resources.

16. Insist that the U.S. Senate ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

17. Insist that the United States adopt the International Violence Against Women Act.

18. Encourage more qualified women to seek public office, and support them.

19. Recruit influential men to assist in gaining equal rights for women.

20. Adopt the Swedish model by prosecuting pimps, brothel owners, and male customers, not the prostitutes.

21. Publicize and implement U.N. Security Resolution 1325, which encourages the participation of women in peace efforts.

22. Publicize and implement U.N. Security Resolution 1820, which condemns the use of sexual violence as a tool of war.

23. Condemn and outlaw honor killings.

From "A Call to Action" © 2014 by Jimmy Carter. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc, NY.

For more information, visit www.cartercenter.org.