'Female leaders, a must' - Women needed
"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." -Abdu'l-Baha
THESE WORDS were said by Abdu'l-Baha, the exemplar and son of the prophet-founder of the Baha'i Faith, in 1911. Then only a handful of people thought that women could be either leaders of thought or countries. This was understandable as leadership was dependent on: physical strength, an attribute which women lacked, and education and training, denied most women.
In the past, men with aggression and force ruled the world. Today we are living in a global village where we communicate with people of diverse backgrounds and in far corners of the world within mega-seconds. We need qualities of compassion, understanding, wisdom, and patience, which are more often present in women than in men. These female qualities are vital to assist humanity to live in peace and harmony.
Further, the establishment of global peace is intimately linked with the establishment of gender equality. Our nations will be unable to survive, develop and advance without creating an atmosphere which allows for the voices, contributions and potentials of all its citizens to be recognised and respected. We cannot afford to ignore the female qualities or block the contribution of half of the population. Women need to be involved in all spheres of life. This means they must be at the forefront of bringing heightened awareness to those conditions, social norms and dictates which prevent them from fully participating in the spiritual, moral, and material progress of their societies. When they are accepted as equal partners and are provided with the same level of economic/social/ educational opportunities of their counterparts then and only then will we begin to witness a global pattern of growth and development around the world that will allow each person to be afforded the basic essential components of a fulfilling life.
Women leaders are necessary to provide a balance in the world of humanity between male and female qualities. Women have a spiritual capacity which enables them to instinctively approach issues, to understand what their impact will be on the family which is the most critical and most vulnerable unit of society.
As first educators of all humankind, it is necessary that women assume their rightful place in leadership and in the decision-making process of our societies in order to ensure that those factors most critical to the balanced education of children and the future world leaders are adequately addressed. These include moral and spiritual education, consultation, agriculture, health, family life, medical research, and abhorrence of criminal activities.
Thus far, our governments and societies have been for the most part ignoring and trivialising the needs and roles of women and children. Because of this even in those countries where economic wealth allows for high standards of living, poverty, crime, divorce, moral decline, health are dramatically evident. I propose that the solution to these problems lies in the opportunity for our women to be involved in all spheres of life and not be shut out of leadership roles.
The progress of women and their assumption of leadership role across every stratum of society are vital and inevitable for the wellbeing of humanity, and the peace and security of the world.
Dorothy White is a member of the Baha'i faith.
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