By The Carter Center’s Human Rights Program
In his book “A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power,” Jimmy Carter identifies 23 actions to advance the rights of women and girls throughout the world. These actions give at least every citizen, state, and nation an action point that they can work from to improve the rights of women and girls both domestically and internationally. With the current discussion around the Equal Rights Amendment in the United States and the fight to end sexual exploitation worldwide, these steps could not be more timely.
1. Encourage women and girls, including those not abused, to speak out more forcefully, and protect those who do speak out 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 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.
Read our blog post on how to get involved.