Reviews for Call to Action : Women, Religion, Violence, and Power

Kirkus Reviews 2014 March #2
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. Copyright Kirkus 2014 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2014 June #2

Former U.S. president Carter here responds to a pervasive denial of equal rights to women, which he believes causes tangible harm to both sexes. He writes that many manifestations of gender discrimination result from incorrect interpretations of religious texts to justify a belief that men and boys are superior to women and girls. Carter methodically identifies the many ways in which women suffer discrimination and violence, providing specific examples from around the world about everything from wage discrimination, genital cutting, and child marriage to poor health care, inadequate prenatal care, and honor killing (the murder of a member of a family by another member defended by the belief that the victim's actions were disgraceful to the family). He writes to raise people's consciousness and hopes that readers will be moved to support efforts to diminish women's suffering. In one example, Carter tells how an educated Afghani woman was forced to marry a man many years older than she who then proceeded to abuse and terrorize her with threats of violence against her and her family. Although that story has a positive outcome, Carter explains that it was only because she had connections to international leaders who were able to remove her from the situation; he laments that most women are not so fortunate. Many of the narratives conclude with information about successful programs or dedicated leaders who offer solutions to the problems described. VERDICT Women's studies scholars and readers interested in international human rights may find these accounts of discrimination and abuse disturbing but should be challenged to respond to Carter's call for action.--Jill Ortner, SUNY Buffalo Libs.

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