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

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.

On the Web
#askElders Y can't we help young girls in townships to know abortion is not the only way? And they can go on pill.if raped there is help
Hi @TheElders How to increase # of female @UN ambassadors? Stats also need update; list from 2009: http://t.co/oTtWzQRj… #askElders
Q from my wife: "Why are so many people (men and women!) still rolling their eyes when somebody stands up for women's rights?" #askElders
I teach our next gen, HS seniors. Their eyes are opening to the harsh reality of gender struggles. How should they get involved? #askElders
Women's unpaid work is at heart of gender inequality but isn't "sexy" enough to make headlines. How do we ensure it's addressed? #AskElders
@TheElders Do you think that women are ever going to achieve equality in this male dominated world? #AskElders
"We men have made a mess of things. I want a world run by women!" - Desmond Tutu (in an email he just sent about #AskElders) #Love
IWD 2014 'Inspiring Change' - Is 'positive discrimination' in workforce/politics a positive enough tool for reform? #askELDERS
Which #womensrights advocates under 30 most inspire you? #AskElders
@TheElders How do you think women in remote rural communities can overcome barriers to exercising their reproductive rights? #askElders
.@TheElders What do we need to do to end #rapeculture and the way girls and women are currently portrayed, disrespected, treated? #askElders
How do we remove barriers to sexual and reproductive health services? #askELDERS #MyBodyMyRights
@TheElders Can predominantly male leadership in international governments achieve real equality for women? #askElders
@TheElders Can there be true equality 4 women & #transwomen (or anyone) w/in current patriarchal/corp oligarchic construct? #IWD #askelders
.@TheElders how can we address the barriers to #womensrights & #SRHR that remain after ICPD? #askElders #IWD
Is there merit in grouping all women of this world together given their very different requirements for rights? #askElders
How can men be supported in becoming women's rights activists too (without rolling their eyes)? #askELDERS
@TheElders Would women's rights & gender equality be better achieved by focusing on changing the attitudes and behaviours of men? #askElders
.@TheElders What is 1 thing #npos can do 2 better serve #refugee women & prevent #gbv? http://t.co/IfpJ0oQJ… #womensday #askElders #Kenya
@TheElders #askElders What tactics/methods can be used to educate & involve men in stopping VAW?
#AskElders #IWD2014 ? How about a world wide movement for women's equality initiated/promoted by you wonderful folk? http://t.co/l9CTvQeM…
@TheElders @MabelvanOranje that goes also for the women in China?about their rights to be born instead of gender discrimination? #askElders
@TheElders #askElders, how would you respond to this article claiming sex assault is not an epidemic? http://t.co/AZOlSlEM…
.@TheElders How do we get more diverse and positive images of girls and women so that we all have a reflection to look up to? #askElders
#askElders does focusing on 'women's organisations' in peace processes silo them off from the rest of civil society? #PSCF
Is itPossible to completely stop ChildMarriage seeing that some abide by it due to them trying to better their living conditions?#askElders
Who would be you inspirational women 'to watch' of 2014? #askelders
Why just women's,not human rights, @TheElders? What's about sexist/racist taunts against white heterosexual men? (WHM) #askElders #maletears
@pia_muzaffar @TheElders How do we turn women's rights into something beyond 'women's issues' & marginal status in govt agenda? #askElders
#askElders: forgetting all the complexity for a moment: what's the one thing that would most improve women's lives globally?
#askElders @theElders How can we ensure that women asylum seekers fleeing #VAWG are protected in the country they flee to?
We will support #women's rights by funding projects that empower women with skills to find their own routes out of poverty #askElders #IWD
I will support #women's rights by using my right to vote for #equality legislation #MarRef #22May #askElders #IWD2015 @marriagequality
I support #women's rights by never shutting up abt their leadership in nonviolence & having them at the peacetable.#askElders #IWD #CGIU2015
I will support #womensrights by speaking up and not just letting it go when someone makes sexist remarks or jokes. #askElders #IWD2015
We will support #women's rights by working toward a convention on older people's #HumanRights. #OlderWomenCount #askElders #IWD @TheElders
I will support #women's rights by demanding that data on violence against women is collected over the age of 49. #askElders #IWD
I will support #women's rights by raising my daughter without gender roles #askElders #IWD
I will support #women's rights with real feminist principles-closing the pay gap, freedom from poverty-at all ages #askElders #IWD @helpage
@tobyhporter IFA supports #women's rights by exploring role of women in disaster situations at IFA 13th Global Conference #askElders #IWD
I will support #women's rights by ensuring the world's older women are not left behind in fight for gender equality #askElders #IWD @helpage
Reading #askelders chat & wondering what can we do for girls stolen by Boko Haram or threatened for going to school? @TheElders #learnmore
@TheElders I will support #women's rights by teaching my son that #equality is only beginning & he can be part of the fix! #askElders #IWD
.@RichardBranson Enlightened companies are realising the power of #diversity, changing policy to promote women to leadership -GM #askElders
.@richardbranson Many of our own in sport resent being considered as quota players. I think women would feel this way too - DT #askElders
Will you show your support for #equality? Complete the tweet: I will support #women's rights by... #askElders #IWD http://t.co/qqGwmzm5…
The fashion industry has a major role in forming our views on women, how can we leverage its power for empowering women? #askElders #IWD2015
@TheElders it seems misogny and misogynoir is not given the attention it should be. What is being done to address this? #askElders
Twitter
.@gycaswell We have a global movement and we won’t be free until #women are truly free - Desmond Tutu #askElders #IWD2015 @TutuLegacy
Ensuring #girls & women can access sexual & reproductive rights crucial to aiding their growth. How can we secure this? #askElders #IWD2015
Twitter
.@gycaswell You cannot sit back. People out there in much worse situations than ours are keeping their fires burning -GM #AskElders #IWD2015
.@gycaswell When you work with young girls you find extraordinary examples of courage & leadership. That makes you humble - GM #AskElders
.@girlsnotbrides Change mindsets. Explain why some norms are harmful to individuals, families, communities, nations - GM #askElders #IWD2015
.@girlsnotbrides To identify the neglected issues, bring them to the top & mobilise the international & national communities- GM #askElders
Women are 25% less likely to be online than men should the right to internet be part of empowering women? @TheElders #IWD2015 #askElders
.@dsw_worldwide Those of us who have worked with women leaders like Graça, know how impoverished society wld be without them -DT #askElders
.@dsw_worldwide If we hold back women, we hold back societies. Allow women to use gift God has given them, communities thrive -DT #askElders
.@ColetteNkunda "We need to educate not only women to protect themselves but also how men regard women."- Graça Machel #AskElders #IWD2015
.@ColetteNkunda Women are productive thinkers, leaders, entrepreneurs. Not only victims. Women are much more than that - GM #AskElders 1/2
What advice do you have for youth who are passionate about fighting for #genderequality & working in international development? #askElders
"Listen to what women want and to be their allies. Help provide them with the wherewithal to achieve their goals." DT #askElders @TutuLegacy
Question from Saikou Camara (Facebook): How can one help women in one’s own community fight for their rights? #askElders #IWD2015
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.@itspetergabriel Phones can make communication quicker & make voices matter where it is most needed, at all levels -GM #AskElders #IWD2015
.@itspetergabriel When women can access information and knowledge, it's is a very crucial part of the empowering process - DT #askElders
.@genderhealth "Provide them with wherewithal to succeed. Almost always adequate funding 'cos nothing succeeds like success" DT #askElders
"If you are equal it’s almost which came first, egg or chicken? In a just society wome wi'll be equal in a truly just society" DT #askElders
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Twitter
Q, Dan Baldwin FB: Which is better, justice or equality? Is a 50/50 split in the boardroom better than fair application system? #askElders
.@gycaswell With the known scourge of #HIV, it's absolutely crucial that religious leaders speak about sex & contraception - DT #askElders
@TheElders what do you think of the idea of quotas to improve gender diversity in boardrooms? #askElders
.@gycaswell “It’s time religious leaders accept that sexuality is part of human life" -Graca Machel #AskElders #IWD2015
Did you know that in 27 countries, the law prevents mothers from passing their nationality to children on an equal basis as fathers?

Join our Twitter Q&A with Graça Machel and Desmond Tutu tomorrow at 1400 GMT to ask your question, using #askElders.

#InternationalWomensDay #iwd2015  

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