Gender perspectives and the work of the United Nations
20 September 2007
First of all, the Bahá’í International Community would like to commend the Council for organizing this discussion and for looking at targeted initiatives to ensure that the gender perspective is systematically integrated into its work. We congratulate the distinguished panelists for their excellent presentation and look forward to the debate that is being initiated here and will no doubt continue beyond this session.
We strongly believe that the achievement of full equality between the sexes is one of the most important (though less acknowledged) prerequisites for peace. Indeed, only when women participate fully and equally in the affairs of the world – and enter confidently and capably the arenas of laws and government – will wars cease. The Bahá'í International Community has been consistently working for the emancipation of women, both through strengthening the UN’s gender mechanisms and through supporting the programs and implementation efforts of its national affiliates in this field.
As you take on the important task of ensuring that the gender perspective is systematically integrated into the Council’s agenda, you may want to consider the following principles.
The advancement of civilization requires the full participation of every human being. For women to be able to fully participate in world affairs, they must be given the requisite tools, level of education and opportunities, of which they are often deprived. Through education, women will make unique contributions to the creation of a just world order: an order characterized by vigor, cooperation, harmony, and a degree of compassion never before witnessed in history.
Furthermore, the equality of men and women needs to be understood as an essential aspect of an even broader principle: the oneness of humanity. Properly understood as a facet of the oneness of humanity, gender equality must be embraced not only as a requirement of justice but also as a prerequisite for peace and prosperity. Nothing short of a compelling vision of peace, and commitment to the values on which it must be based, will have the power to motivate the revolutionary changes in individual behavior, organizational structures and interpersonal dynamics called for by the various instruments on the advancement of women.
The principle of the oneness of humankind lies at the heart of the exhortation that we should treat others as we ourselves would wish to be treated. To establish justice, peace and order in an interdependent world, this principle must guide all interactions, including those between men and women. If the treatment of women were scrutinized in the light of this ethical standard, we would doubtless move beyond many traditional, religious and cultural practices.
It therefore becomes clear that women and men have to work together, with respect, to ensure the establishment of world peace and sustainable development.
As the Council moves forward in its work, the Bahá’í International Community suggests that measures required for the advancement of women be in evidence here not only thematically, within your discussions, but also in your manner of functioning – in order to ensure the full participation of women in all the debates of the Human Rights Council.
BIC Document #07-0920