Tuesday, January 12, 2010

45. "The Elders" and The Self-Empowered Woman

Dear Followers,

On Sunday I was reading the latest NY Times column by Nicholas Kristof, and learned about a new movement designed to urge religions around the world to stop oppressing women. Kristof points out that warlords in Congo may not use scripture to justify mass rapes, and Hindus in India who burn brides may not excuse that tradition by quoting Hindu rituals, and Afghans do not rely on the Koran to justify throwing acid into the faces of girls who try to go to school. But because these behaviors reflect a social belief that women are second-class citizens, religions do little to change such abuses.

To fight these ingrained behaviors, Nelson Mandela brought together a small group of retired leaders (called "The Elders") to focus on the role of religion in oppressing women. The group includes Bishop Desmond Tutu, Ireland's Mary Robinson, and former president Jimmy Carter.

Carter has noted that religion is one of the "basic causes of the violations of women's rights....The belief that are inferior human beings in the eyes of God gives excuses to the brutal husband who beats his wife, the soldier who rapes a woman, the employer who has a lower pay scale for women employees, or parents who decide to abort a female embryo."

Who would have thought that the Dalai Lama would agree that religion is part of the problem, and declare himself "a feminist"? As Kristof wrote "The Elders are right that religious groups should stand up for a simple ethical principle: any person's human rights should be sacred, and not depend on something as earthly as their genitals."

Looking forward to your comments...

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