On behalf of my fellow Elders, I want to offer our heart-felt thanks to all of you who have contacted us recently. I am particularly pleased that we have received so many messages of support for our efforts to promote equality for women and girls.
Many of you wrote to us following President Carter’s call for religious and traditional leaders to end discriminatory practices and stand up for equality, others contacted us after Nicholas Kristof’s article in the New York Times.
Some of you took the time to share your own stories and experiences, for which we are especially grateful. We have heard from people all over the world who are working for the equality of women and girls. Your messages give us encouragement, and remind us that, as one of you put it, “this will allow all human beings to reach their full potential with dignity.”
Some have also expressed concern that we are criticising or dismissing religion, but I want to assure you that is not our intention. As a group we have great respect for each others’ different faiths and traditions and I have met many spiritual leaders who are the most courageous defenders of the rights of the poor and oppressed.
What we hope is that leaders will join us in speaking out against practices which cause suffering to women and girls, endanger their health and deny them the opportunity to reach their full potential in life. I am convinced that we can make real change together. We will all benefit if women and girls are able to contribute fully and equally in their communities.
The Elders also continue to closely monitor events in Burma, Cyprus, the Middle East, Sudan and Zimbabwe.
You can read more from Lakhdar Brahimi, Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu on our blogs, as well as Ela Bhatt’s article on the importance of women’s economic empowerment. I recently enjoyed answering questions about The Elders for the Huffington Post, along with President Carter and Archbishop Tutu.
In Cyprus, we welcomed the recent statement made by the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities on progress towards a peace agreement. After decades of division there is finally momentum for a settlement, and this momentum must be sustained by the people of Cyprus and the international community.
What you can do
Many messages ask “How can I help?”
The best thing you can do right now is to help spread the word about The Elders - please encourage your friends to visit our website, join our Facebook fan page and follow us on Twitter.
Please keep sending your comments and thoughts as well – especially if you are affected directly by any of the issues we are working on. We hope this dialogue will continue to grow as our work evolves.
I am sorry that we cannot reply personally to all the messages that you send, but we are grateful for them and the inspiration and encouragement that they give us.
With my best wishes,
PS – Special thanks to Stefano from Switzerland who wrote: “I think this is great what you're doing, not throwing in the towel or just putting up your legs for what would be a well earned retirement, but using your experience and influence to help restore this world to what it was made to be.”
Yes, Stefano, sometimes I do think it might be a bit easier to put up my legs and retire, but with the help and support of people such as you, I do my best!