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Assurance to women of full equality of opportunity with men

One of the basic principles assurance to women of full equality of opportunity with men

In 1985 the Universal House of Justice wrote in The Promise of World Peace The Universal House of Justice
(The Bahá’í International Community was honored with a “Peace Messenger” award by the United Nations for the dissemination of this statement, which presents a powerful argument for change to a peaceful, co-operative global society.)

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 perpetrates 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 endeavor will the moral and psychological climate be created in which international peace can emerge. UHJ 1985

“The effect of the persistent denial to women of full equality with men sharpens still further the challenge to science and religion in the economic life of humankind. To any objective observer the principle of the equality of the sexes is fundamental to all realistic thinking about the future well-being 13 of the earth and its people. It represents a truth about human nature that has waited largely unrecognized throughout the long ages of the race’s childhood and adolescence. “Women and men”, is Bahá’u’lláh’s emphatic assertion, “have been and will always be equal in the sight of God.” The rational soul has no sex, and whatever social inequities may have been dictated by the survival requirements of the past, they clearly cannot be justified at a time when humanity stands at the threshold of maturity. A commitment to the establishment of full equality between men and women, in all departments of life and at every level of society, will be central to the success of efforts to conceive and implement a strategy of global development (UHJ. 1996. The Prosperity of Humankind.).”

Indeed, in an important sense, progress in this area will itself be a measure of the success of any development program. Given the vital role of economic activity in the advancement of civilization, visible evidence of the pace at which development is progressing will be the extent to which women gain access to all avenues of economic endeavor. The challenge goes beyond ensuring an equitable distribution of opportunity, important as that is. It calls for a fundamental rethinking of economic issues in a manner that will invite the full participation of a range of human experience and insight hitherto largely excluded from the discourse. The classical economic models of impersonal markets in which human beings act as autonomous makers of self-regarding choices will not serve the needs of a world motivated by ideals of unity and justice. Society will find itself increasingly challenged to develop new economic models shaped by insights that arise from a sympathetic understanding of shared experience, from viewing human beings in relation to others, and from a recognition of the centrality to social well-being of the role of the family and the community. Such an intellectual breakthrough—strongly altruistic rather than self-centered in focus—must draw heavily on both the spiritual and scientific sensibilities of the race, and millenia of experience have prepared women to make crucial contributions to the common effort(UHJ. 1996. The Prosperity of Humankind.).”

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