Kirkus Reviews QR Code
A CALL TO ACTION by Jimmy Carter


Women, Religion, Violence, and Power

by Jimmy Carter

Pub Date: March 25th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4767-7395-7
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

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.