Bahá’ís believe that the emancipation of women and the achievement of full equality between the sexes are essential to human progress and the transformation of society. Inequality retards not only the advancement of women but the progress of civilization itself. The persistent denial of equality to one-half of the world’s population is an affront to human dignity. It promotes destructive attitudes and habits in men and women that pass from the family to the work place, to political life, and, ultimately, to international relations. In line with the 16 Days of Activism to stop Violence against Woman, it is even more essential that we work towards this full equality between the genders, as only then will humanity progress to a point where society will be ‘re-formed’ and violent treatment and prejudice against one half of that society will become unthinkable.
On no grounds, moral, biological, or traditional, can inequality be justified. The moral and psychological climate necessary to enable our nation to establish social justice and to contribute to global peace will be created only when women attain full partnership with men in all fields of endeavor.
How have we reached this point in our history?
The systematic oppression of women is a conspicuous and tragic fact of history. Restricted to narrow spheres of activity in the life of society, denied educational opportunities and basic human rights, subjected to violence, and frequently treated as less than human, women have been prevented from realizing their true potential. Age-old patterns of subordination, reflected in popular culture, literature and art, law, and even religious scriptures, continue to pervade every aspect of life. Despite the advancement of political and civil rights for women in South Africa and the widespread acceptance of equality in principle, full equality has not been achieved.
Much needs to be done.
Over a century ago, for the first time in religious history, Bahá’u’lláh, the Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, in announcing God’s purpose for the age, proclaimed the principle of the equality of women and men, saying: “Women and men have been and will always be equal in the sight of God.” (Baha’u’llah – Compilation of Compilations). The establishment of equal rights and privileges for women and men, Bahá’u’lláh says, is a precondition for the attainment of a wider unity that will ensure the well-being and security of all peoples. The Bahá’í Writings state emphatically that, “When all mankind shall receive the same opportunity of education and the equality of men and women be realized, the foundations of war will be utterly destroyed.” (Abdu’l Baha : The Promulgation of World Peace)
These statements, when we consider their full rolling out and fruition, are enormous in scope and profound in their future impact on society. It is in this unfolding of a “New World Order” that the Bahá’í Faith is fully immersed and completely committed to creating. Our future articles will give far more detail as to how this can be realised in our day-to-day lives.