In addition to my last post just now, I have a few more to add:
"The beloved Guardian in reply to the same query from a believer pointed out in a letter written on his behalf on July 15th 1947: 'People must just accept the fact that women are not eligible to the International House of Justice. As the Master says the wisdom of this will be known in the future, we can only accept, believing it is right, but not able to give an explanation calculated to silence an ardent feminist!'
"We must have faith in the Supreme Manifestation of God and His Exemplar, Whose prescience is revealed in such provisions which will one day 'be made manifest even as the mid-day sun.'"
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual
believer, May 26, 1971)
As regards the membership of the International House of Justice, 'Abdu'l-Bahá states in a Tablet that it is confined to men, and that the wisdom of it will be revealed as manifest as the sun in the future. In any case the believers should know that, as 'Abdu'l-Bahá Himself has explicitly stated that sexes are equal except in some cases, the exclusion of women from the International House of Justice should not be surprising. From the fact that there is no equality of functions between the sexes one should not, however, infer that either sex is inherently superior or inferior to the other, or that they are unequal in their rights."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual
believer, July 28, 1936: Women, A Compilation, p. 9)
The establishment of a women's assemblage for the promotion of knowledge is entirely acceptable, but discussions must be confined to educational matters. It should be done in such a way that differences will, day by day, be entirely wiped out, not that, God forbid, it will end in argumentation between men and women. As in the question of the veil, nothing should be done contrary to wisdom. The individual women should, today, follow a course of action which will be the cause of eternal glory to all womankind, so that all women will be illumined. And that lieth in gathering to learn how to teach, in holding meetings to recite the verses, to offer supplications to the kingdom of the Lord of evident signs, and to institute education for the girls. Ponder the manner in which Jinab-i-Táhirih used to teach. She was free from every concern, and for this reason she was resplendent.
Now the world of women should be a spiritual world, not a political one, so that it will be radiant. The women of other nations are all immersed in political matters. Of what benefit is this, and what fruit doth it yield? To the extent that ye can, ye should busy yourselves with spiritual matters which will be conducive to the exaltation of the Word of God and of the diffusion of His fragrances. Your demeanour should lead to harmony amongst all and to coalescence and the good-pleasure of all....
I am endeavouring, with Bahá'u'lláh's confirmations and assistance, so to improve the world of the handmaidens that all will be astonished. This progress is intended to be in spirituality, in virtues, in human perfections and in divine knowledge. In America, the cradle of women's liberation, women are still debarred from political institutions because they squabble. They are yet to have a member in the House of Representatives. Also Bahá'u'lláh hath proclaimed: "O ye men of the House of Justice." Ye need to be calm and composed, so that the work will proceed with wisdom, otherwise there will be such chaos that ye will leave everything and run away. "This newly born babe is traversing in one night the path that needeth a hundred years to tread." In brief, ye should now engage in matters of pure spirituality and not contend with men. 'Abdu'l-Bahá will tactfully take appropriate steps. Be assured. In the end thou wilt thyself exclaim, "This was indeed supreme wisdom!" I appeal to you to obliterate this contention between men and women....
No one can on his own achieve anything. 'Abdu'l-Bahá must be well pleased and assist.
The emphasized portion of the above passage, I believe may actually hint to a specific reason for this restriction to men on the Universal House of Justice, and likewise in the following:
"As regards the constitution of the House of Justice, Baha'u'llah addresses the men. He says: `O ye men of the House of Justice!'
"But when its members are to be elected, the right which belongs to women, so far as their voting and their voice is concerned, is indisputable. When the women attain to the ultimate degree of progress, then, according to the exigency of the time and place and their great capacity
, they shall obtain extraordinary privileges. Be ye confident on these accounts."
(Paris Talks, within pp. 182-184, quoted on-line at http://bahai-library.org/writings/abdul ... ec-20.html
The time is not right yet, and perhaps will not be for at least 1000 years, given that the membership on the Universal House of Justice is explicitly for men only--even while the cause of women is promised to make great strides during this Dispensation. Again, this has nothing to do with their inherent stations.
As the passages on this topic indicate we don't know whether the exclusion is due to an inherent difference in function, there are certain passages which might lead one to think that women will hold such a high position in the future (even higher than the unprecedented role of Bahiyyih Khanum in leading the Faith during one period of time), or on the other hand, that the necessity for a sense of forcefulness at the head of the Faith which gives commands for all to obey precludes this, just as man is considered to be the head of the family
and how 'Abdu'l-Baha indicated that the lack of previous women Manifestations of God:
At this point a lady asked, `Up to the present time, not a single woman has appeared as a Messenger from God. Why have all the Manifestations of God been men?' `Abdu'l-Bahá replied:
Although women are equal to men in abilities and capacities, there is no doubt that men are bolder and physically more powerful. This distinction is also apparent in the animal kingdom, for example among pigeons, sparrows, peacocks and others.
(Mahmud's Diary, July 11, 1912 (this is an authentic account of 'Abdu'l-Baha wrote the Universal House of Justice)
One last item... In the long passage above, it drives home the importance for women (and as elsewhere, for men) to focus on teaching. Note what 'Abdu'l-Baha further says about women and teaching:
"Ponder ye: in this wonderful Cause numerous were the men who scaled the heights of knowledge; they had a brilliant utterance, a convincing proof, an eloquent tongue and magnificent speech, but the blessed leaf, Jinab-i-Tahirih, because she was a woman, emerged with immense splendour and dumbfounded all the people. If she were a man, this would not have been so at all. Therefore, ye should know that the greatness of the Cause hath penetrated the nerves and veins of the world in such wise that if one of the leaves is attracted and gains mastery in demonstrating reasons and proofs and in uttering convincing evidences, she will shine resplendently."
('Abdu'l-Baha, Women compilation, at http://bahai-library.org/compilations/women/5.html