Jimmy Carter
The world itself is now dominated by a new spirit. Peoples
more numerous and more politically aware are craving, and
now demanding, their place in the sun not just for the
benefit of their own physical condition, but for basic human
rights. The passion for freedom is on the rise.
—inaugural address, january 20, 1977
Swanee Hunt’s Rwandan Women Rising describes a remarkable example
of the spirit referred to in this epigraph. She not only captures Rwandan
women’s stories of rebirth after the unspeakable hundred- day genocide of
1994 she actually shows us how they survived this cataclysm to become
catalysts for the most impressive transformation in all of Africa. And
importantly, she reveals these lessons through the voices of the women
themselves. Her interviews paint detailed pictures of the obstacles they
had to overcome, as well as their many small victories that gradually led
to enormous wins for the whole society.
At the Carter Center, which Rosalynn and I launched after my presi-
dency, we have worked for democracy and development in more than
140 countries, many of them torn by violence and conflict. Through
this work, we learned that when women are actively involved, countries
are more likely to embrace human rights in practical ways. We’ve seen
how the inclusion of women and girls enables nations to end bloodshed,
achieve stability, and sustain the growth that usually follows.
We saw this illustrated in a different nation that I visited in 1978, when
I made the first presidential visit to sub- Saharan Africa. It was no accident
that I chose Liberia, given its founding by freed American slaves. Two years
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