Carter: Gender inequality the worst human rights violation today

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Former President Jimmy Carter said globally speaking, mistreatment of women is the worst violation of human rights in the world today.

"The existing abuse of females is the worst and most pervasive and unaddressed human rights violation on Earth," Carter told NBC's Andrea Mitchell last week in an interview at The Carter Center.

Carter believes the problem derives indirectly from the fact that many religious leaders say that women are inferior in the eyes of God - a claim he called "a false interpretation of the holy scriptures." He said that when leaders like the pope and Southern Baptist Convention cannot serve equally as men in the priesthood, men take that as license to treat women as inferior.

Carter and his wife Rosalynn recently left their long-time congregation - a member of the Southern Baptist Convention - because of the way they treated women.

"The Convention decided at its annual meeting to declare women be subservient to their husbands and women could no longer serve as pastoral priest or even as a deacon. Those kind of things really convinced me that I should change."

The subject of women's rights is one of the focal points of Carter's new book, "A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power." He discussed the book, as well as recent NSA surveillance scandals and his relationship with President Barack Obama, in the Andrea Mitchell interview which aired Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." You can watch the entire interview as it aired on "Meet the Press" on the show's website.