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World unity, peace depend on treating the sexes equally

By Kambiz Rafraf
Published April 1, 1995

More than a century ago in Persia, Baha'u'llah, prophet-founder of the Baha'i faith, proclaimed the equality of man and woman. He did not leave this pronouncement as an ideal or pious hope but wove it into the fabric of his social order. He supported it by laws requiring the same standard of education for women as for men and equality of rights in society.

Equality of the sexes is a spiritual and moral standard essential for the unification of the planet. Without the qualities, talents and skills of both women and men, full economic and social development of the planet becomes impossible.

For, according to the writings of Baha'u'llah, "The world of humanity is possessed of two wings - the male and the female. So long as these two wings are not equivalent in strength the bird will not fly. Until womankind reaches the same degree as man, until she enjoys the same arena of activity, extraordinary attainment for humanity will not be realized; humanity cannot wing its way to heights of real attainment."

In the present transition of humanity from adolescence to maturity, signs of this evolving equality can be observed everywhere. In the Baha'i view this is hardly surprising, for "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."

The character of this unique age we are entering is further brought into focus in the following statement from the Baha'i writings: "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 scales are already shifting, force is losing its weight, 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 properly balanced."

As regards the role of parents, although both parents share in the overall responsibility of educating the children, the mother is given recognition as the first educator of humanity, and she must be carefully prepared for this task. Her education, in fact, from the Baha'i point of view, "is more necessary and important than that of man, for woman is the trainer of the child from its infancy."

Another major contribution of women is in the arena of international affairs and establishment of world peace. "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. ... 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."

This contribution of women to the establishment of world unity and peace will inevitably be recognized and developed.

Kambiz Rafraf is chairman of the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Dallas.

©Copyright 1995, The Dallas Morning News

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