Former US president Jimmy Carter and The Elders group of global leaders want an end to "harmful and discriminatory practices against women and girls" within religions, such as the exclusion of women in priesthood.
"Religion and tradition are a great force for peace and progress around the world," said The Elders, a group of global leaders brought together by Nelson Mandela, in statement to mark the launch of their latest initiative, The Christian Post reported.
"However, as Elders, we believe that the justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a higher authority, is unacceptable," added the 12 person organisation.
"It is not just women who are paying an enormous price for this cultural and religious prejudice. We all suffer when women and girls are abused and their needs are neglected. By denying them security and opportunity, we embed unfairness in our societies and fail to make the most of the talents of half the population," The Elders state.
Last week, former President Carter attempted to draw greater attention to The Elders' gender equality initiative by submitting an op-ed to newspapers including UK's The Observer and The Age in Australia.
"The truth is that male religious leaders have had, and still have, an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter," he wrote in the piece, which can be found on The Elders website.
In his piece, Carter recalled his "painful and difficult" decision to sever ties with the Southern Baptist Convention in 2000 after having been a part of the denomination for six decades.
The decision, he said, was "unavoidable ... when the convention's leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be 'subservient' to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service".
Members of the group include Kofi Annan, former secretary-general of the United Nations, Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu, and Grameen Bank founder Muhammad Yunus. It was formed in 2007 to seek to solve problems using "almost 1,000 years of collective experience".
The group said it wants to condemn "deep rooted belief that women are worth less than men has infected every aspect of our societies" that have led to brutal violence and mistreatment against women and have denied girls and women fair access to education, health, employment, property and influence within their own communities.
FULL STORY @
Jimmy Carter confronts 'religious prejudice' against women (Christian Post)
Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan, and Other Ex-Presidents Slam Christian Churches for Not Ordaining Women (LifeSiteNews)
Religious and traditional practices discriminate against women and girls (The Elders)
The words of God do not justify cruelty to women (The Elders)
Jimmy Carter http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Carter,_Jimmy_(1924).jpg / CC BY 2.0