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“To denigrate women is to spit in the face of God”

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Desmond Tutu and Jimmy Carter spent an hour responding to questions on women’s rights yesterday, in The Elders’ first ever live Twitter Q&A for International Women’s Day 2014.

Marking International Women’s Day 2014, Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu answered questions online yesterday in The Elders’ first ever Twitter Q&A.

Hina Jilani, the third Elder planning to join the Q&A, unfortunately had to pull out at the last minute due to illness. With the event now comprising two male Elders, we asked supporters about men’s responsibility to tackle discrimination against women:


Continuing the theme of how men can act to advance equality for girls and women, the Elders replied to a question from a father:


Questions came in from Twitter users – men and women, young and old and – all over the world, from Nigeria to New Delhi. One primary school teacher in London asked her pupils to submit questions no longer than 140 characters, posting a photo:


Many Twitter users asked questions about the role of religious traditions in shaping attitudes towards women and girls. The two Elders spoke about their efforts to promote women’s leadership within the church, emphasising that gender inequality is not something justified in religious texts but, as Jimmy Carter put it, “contrived in patriarchal societies for benefit of male leaders.”


Violence against women was another common theme, with questions on tackling rape culture, sexual violence in conflict and human trafficking. As well as pointing to legal enforcement, the Elders emphasised that violence has its roots in discriminatory attitudes towards women:


They named some of the women leaders who inspire them – for Jimmy Carter, this was “leaders who use their ascendant positions to enhance the rights of all other women and girls” – and advocated quotas and positive discrimination as tools to encourage more women leaders in politics and the private sector.

Condemning demeaning stereotypes of women in media and advertising, Archbishop Tutu agreed that objectification can be “unlearnt” by practising empathy:


To see more of the conversation, go to #askElders.

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