OXFORD, (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Discrimination against women and girls is a more pressing global challenge than disparities in income between the rich and the poor, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter said on Tuesday.
The 93-year-old, who established the Carter Center in 1982 to prevent and resolve conflicts and push for human rights, also backed women to bring about a more politically stable world.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that a woman is more inclined to peace than a man is, so I think we can move towards peace if women get more and more positions in parliament and more and more positions as president,” he said.
Carter was speaking at the annual Skoll World Forum, a gathering of 1,200 social entrepreneurs. He previously cited disparity in income as the world’s greatest challenge when receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.
Carter also pointed to unequal numbers of women and men in parts of India and China, suggesting that prejudice against females meant they had been killed by their families.
Experts have said previously that a strong preference for sons is the root cause behind the uneven ratios, with some parents taking illegal gender tests to abort female foetuses.
The Skoll Foundation was bestowing on Carter its Global Treasure Award. Sally Osberg, president of the foundation, said there were no formal criteria for the award.
“We just know that there is someone in our midst whose integrity is inspiring and whose record of achievement in addressing the world’s pressing problems is nothing less than stunning,” said Osberg.
Previous winners have included fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, the Dalai Lama and Irish rock star Bono.
Carter served as president between 1977 and 1981. He was succeeded by Ronald Reagan.
Carter was followed on to the stage at Skoll by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of the United Nations’ agency on women, who reminded the audience that it was Equal Pay Day in the United States.
The awareness-raising day has been observed for two decades to mark how many more days women must work in a subsequent year simply to catch up with what men earned in the previous year.
Mlambo-Ngcuka said the average global gender pay gap was 23 percent, adding that this could be worse for women of colour, indigenous women, those who are disabled, or for reasons of sexual orientation.