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Compiled by Marlene Macke, St Marys, ON, Canada

 Equality of Men and Women 

The emancipation of women, the achievement of full equality between the sexes, is one of the most important, though less acknowledged prerequisites of peace.  The denial of such equality perpetuates an injustice against one half of the world’s population and promotes in men harmful attitudes and habits that are carried from the family to the workplace, to political life, and ultimately to international relations.  There are no grounds, moral, practical, or biological, upon which such denial can be justified.  Only as women are welcomed into full partnership in all fields of human endeavour will the moral and psychological climate be created in which international peace can emerge.  –  Universal House of Justice, To the Peoples of the World, A Baha’i Statement on Peace

“Man” a generic term 

The truth is that all mankind are the creatures and servants of one God, and in His estimate all are human. Man is a generic term applying to all humanity. The biblical statement “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” does not mean that woman was not created. The image and likeness of God apply to her as well. In Persian and Arabic there are two distinct words translated into English as man: one meaning man and woman collectively, the other distinguishing man as male from woman the female. The first word and its pronoun are generic, collective; the other is restricted to the male. This is the same in Hebrew.  –  `Abdu’l‑Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 76

In Past Ages

In past ages it was held that woman and man were not equal – that is to say, woman was considered inferior to man, even from the standpoint of her anatomy and creation.  She was considered especially inferior in intelligence, and the idea prevailed universally that it was not allowable for her to step into the arena of important affairs.  In some countries man went so far as to believe and teach that woman belonged to a sphere lower than human.  But in this century, which is the century of light and the revelation of mysteries, God is proving to the satisfaction of humanity that all this is ignorance and error, nay, rather, it is well established that mankind and womankind as parts of composite humanity are coequal and that no difference in estimate is allowable, for all are human.  –  The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 133

Equality in the sight of God 

All should know, and in this regard attain the splendours of the sun of certitude, and be illumined thereby: Women and men have been and will always be equal in the sight of God.  The Dawning Place of the Light of God sheddeth its radiance upon all with the same effulgence.  Verily God created women for men, and men for women.  The most beloved of people before God are the most steadfast and those who have surpassed others in their love for God, exalted be His glory.  –  Bahá’u’lláh, cited in Women, 23

Know thou, O handmaid, that in the sight of Bahá, women are accounted the same as men, and God hath created all humankind in His own image, and after His own likeness.  That is, men and women alike are the revealers of His names and attributes, and from the spiritual viewpoint there is no difference between them.  Whosoever draweth nearer to God, that one is the most favoured, whether man or woman.  How many a handmaid, ardent and devoted, hath, within the sheltering shade of Bahá, proved superior to the men, and surpassed the famous of the earth.  –  Selections from the Writings of `Abdu’l‑Bahá, 79-80

He establishes the equality of man and woman.  This is peculiar to the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, for all other religions have placed man above woman.  –  The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 455

Outcome of Equality

The world of humanity has two wings – one is women and the other men.  Not until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly.  Should one wing remain weak, flight is impossible.  Not until the world of women becomes equal to the world of men in the acquisition of virtues and perfections, can success and prosperity be attained as they ought to be.  –  Selections from the Writings of `Abdu’l‑Bahá, 302

Until the reality of equality between man and woman is fully established and attained, the highest social development of mankind is not possible.  –  The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 76

And let it be known once more that until woman and man recognize and realize equality, social and political progress here or anywhere will not be possible.  For the world of humanity consists of two parts or members: one is woman; the other is man.  Until these two members are equal in strength, the oneness of humanity cannot be established, and the happiness and felicity of mankind will not be a reality.  –  The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 77

The happiness of mankind will be realized when women and men co-ordinate and advance equally, for each is the complement and helpmeet of the other.  –  The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 182

Women have equal rights with men upon earth; in religion and society they are a very important element.  As long as women are prevented from attaining their highest possibilities, so long will men be unable to achieve the greatness which might be theirs.  –  Paris Talks, 133

Role of Education 

What, then, constitutes the inequality between man and woman?  Both are human.  In powers and function each is the complement of the other.  At most it is this: that woman has been denied the opportunities which man has so long enjoyed, especially the privilege of education.  –  The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 75

He promulgated the adoption of the same course of education for man and woman.  Daughters and sons must follow the same curriculum of study, thereby promoting the unity of the sexes.  –  The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 174

Furthermore, the education of woman is more necessary and important than that of man, for woman is the trainer of the child from its infancy.  If she be defective and imperfect herself, the child will necessarily be deficient; therefore, imperfection of woman implies a condition of imperfection in all mankind, for it is the mother who rears, nurtures and guides the growth of the child…  If the educator be incompetent, the educated will be correspondingly lacking.  This is evident and incontrovertible.  Could the student be brilliant and accomplished if the teacher is illiterate and ignorant?  The mothers are the first educators of mankind; if they be imperfect, alas for the condition and future of the race.  –  The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 133-134

Equality and the Family 

According to the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh the family, being a human unit, must be educated according to the rules of sanctity…  The integrity of the family bond must be constantly considered, and the rights of the individual members must not be transgressed.  The rights of the son, the father, the mother – none of them must be transgressed, none of them must be arbitrary.  Just as the son has certain obligations to his father, the father, likewise, has certain obligations to his son.  The mother, the sister and other members of the household have their certain prerogatives.  All these rights and prerogatives must be conserved, yet the unity of the family must be sustained.  The injury of one shall be considered the injury of all; the comfort of each, the comfort of all; the honour of one, the honour of all.  –  The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 168

Women and Peace 

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… There is no doubt that when women obtain equality of rights, war will entirely cease among mankind.  –  The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 175

The most momentous question of this day is international peace and arbitration, and universal peace is impossible without universal suffrage.  –  The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 135

Therefore, strive to show in the human world that women are most capable and efficient, that their hearts are more tender and susceptible than the hearts of men, that they are more philanthropic and responsive toward the needy and suffering, that they are inflexibly opposed to war and are lovers of peace.  Strive that the ideal of international peace may become realized through the efforts of womankind, for man is more inclined to war than woman, and a real evidence of woman’s superiority will be her service and efficiency in the establishment of universal peace.  –  The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 284 

The Future 

The world in the past has been ruled by force, and man has dominated over woman by reason of his more forceful and aggressive qualities both of body and mind.  But the balance is already shifting; force is losing its dominance, and mental alertness, intuition, and the spiritual qualities of love and service, in which woman is strong, are gaining ascendancy.  Hence the new age will be an age less masculine and more permeated with the feminine ideals, or, to speak more exactly, will be an age in which the masculine and feminine elements of civilization will be more evenly balanced.  –  Abdu’l‑Bahá, cited in Star of the West, viii, No 3, 4

In this Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, the women go neck and neck with the men.  In no movement will they be left behind.  Their rights with men are equal in degree.  They will enter all the administrative branches of politics.  They will attain in all such a degree as will be considered the very highest station in the world of humanity and will take part in all affairs.  Rest ye assured.  Do ye not look upon the present conditions; in the not far distant future the world of women will become all-refulgent and all-glorious.  –  Paris Talks, 182

Women must go on advancing; they must extend their knowledge of science, literature, history, for the perfection of humanity.  Erelong they will receive their rights.  Men will see women in earnest, bearing themselves with dignity, improving the civil and political life, opposed to warfare, demanding suffrage and equal opportunities.  I expect to see you advance in all phases of life; then will your brows be crowned with the diadem of eternal glory.  –  `Abdu’l‑Bahá, cited in Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, 148-149