President Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter: Women’s rights the fight of my life

By Greg Botelho, CNN Sat February 14, 2015

Atlanta (CNN) Jimmy Carter has seen a lot in his 90 years.

As a son of the South, a governor and president, and as a man who spent decades tackling problems head-on, he knows the world is not perfect. It has too many people without a voice and without hope, too many examples of suffering and injustice.

There are so many wrongs to right. Yet among them, Carter is putting one ahead of all others: Violence and injustice against girls and women.

“This is going to be the highest priority for the rest of my life,” he said this week.

He’s doing it at the urging of wife, Rosalynn, and for his daughter, three granddaughters and five great-granddaughters. He says he wants them to have the same opportunities and security that men do

He’s doing it for the more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram in Nigeria, for those who have become ISIS militants’ sex slaves and for girls everywhere who can’t go to school. He’s doing it for the estimated 160 million babies aborted or killed at birth in Asia in recent decades because they were not boys. He’s doing it for American college co-eds and women in the military who suffer rape and see the men responsible walk free.

Carter also is doing it because of women he has met from places like Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Some can’t go home due to the taboos and dangers facing them in male-dominated societies. Others go anyway, risking their lives.

“They’re the heroes,” the former President says. “And they inspire me.”

Scores of these “heroes” shared stories and brainstormed solutions this week at the Carter Center, the President’s namesake humanitarian and advocacy organization. The issues ranged widely, from income inequality to so-called “honor killings.” Yet the attendees were united in a belief that women should be on par with men, echoing Carter in his latest book titled, “A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power.”

He is making this the fight of his life, urging the conference attendees to be unrelenting.