Girl on Fire: Progress made to equal rights

[As seen in Creston News Advertiser, April 3, 2014]

Last week, I found a story written by an employee of Al Jazeera America, an international broadcaster headquartered in Qatar, titled “Former President Jimmy Carter’s call to action.”

Carter gave a speech about his new book, “A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power,” during a “Consider This” interview with Antonio Mora. Carter’s book takes a look at how he, now 89, learned about the issues of sexism from when he was a child through his life in the military, as a farmer and as president of the United States.

I haven’t read the book, so I can’t give an opinion. But, I will say that Carter introducing this book to the world at all is a huge step toward rights for all people of the world, whether they be male, female, old or young.

Carter was president of the United States from 1977 to 1981. During his presidency, Carter declared an energy crisis, an environmental evacuation in New York, the deregulation of aviation prices and boycotted the Summer Olympics in Moscow in 1980 because the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan the previous year.

Since his presidency, Carter and his wife Rosalynn started the Carter Center in 1982. The Carter Center focuses on improving human rights all over the globe. Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the nonprofit organization.

I have always believed people can make the world a better place, and who better to promote that change than a person of authority.

Another example occurred recently in Centerville. I keep tabs on the happenings of my former town, and the Daily Iowegian published a story March 30 highlighting the signing of proclamations against sexual abuse by local mayors, including the ones of Moravia, Centerville and Rathbun.

I realized just how amazing a step that was for the south central Iowa area. While someone in a political position of a small town doesn’t have quite the authoritative pull as a former United States president, he or she is still in a position of power within that community. I applaud these local mayors for recognizing the issues of sexual assault and doing something about it.

However, I truly hope the communities don’t forget this proclamation. I hope the people take advantage of this equal rights change and continue to create an amazing place for both boys and girls, men and women, to live. Educating the future’s children about respect begins when they are young, and I believe people in Centerville, Moravia and Rathbun will do what it takes to educate boys to respect girls, and girls to respect themselves and those around them to prevent assaults in the future.

I hope these actions of respect and change become instilled in young people still in these communities, and make them better people in the future.

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