Our churches, mosques, and synagogues can be a source of peace, justice, and spiritual nourishment, but entrenched patriarchy often condones violation of women’s rights. Patriarchy is not new. It is a system created and maintained by men of faith and politics who hold the levers of economic, cultural, and political power and who confuse strength and masculinity with domination and brutality. Patriarchy must be replaced by a system in which equal human rights and non-violence are promoted and accepted. This will happen if we embrace the kind of love and mutual respect exemplified and preached by the founders of the world’s great religions, and through the persistent efforts of those who speak out and work for a more equal and less violent world. Equal human dignity is a human right, as codified in many global treaties. It is my hope that political and religious leaders will step forward and use their influence to communicate clearly that violence against women and girls must stop, that we are failing our societies, and that the time for leadership is now.
(Jimmy Carter, “Patriarchy and violence against women and girls” [Comment], The Lancet 385 (April 25, 2015), e40.