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Religion Library: Baha'i

Gender and Sexuality

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The changes to social structure and social functioning play a major role in advancing the social role of women since women have always tended to be at the bottom of the social hierarchy and do worse in the competitive and conflictive environment that that structure produces. The move within the Baha'i community to promote a more cooperative and consultative environment will result in a greater role for women since they have been shown to do better in such environments.

From the Writings of Baha'u'llah regarding the Equality of Women and Men

All should know, and in this regard attain the splendours of the sun of certitude, and be illumined thereby: Women and men have been and will always be equal in the sight of God. The Dawning-Place of the Light of God sheddeth its radiance upon all with the same effulgence. Verily God created women for men, and men for women. The most beloved of people before God are the most steadfast and those who have surpassed others in their love for God, exalted be His glory....

The friends of God must be adorned with the ornament of justice, equity, kindness and love. As they do not allow themselves to be the object of cruelty and transgression, in like manner they should not allow such tyranny to visit the handmaidens of God. He, verily, speaketh the truth and commandeth that which benefitteth His servants and handmaidens. He is the Protector of all in this world and the next.

Throughout the Baha'i world, there is a general awareness of the need to promote the role of women, and there have been a number of international Baha'i conferences to consider this issue. Many of the social and economic programs carried out by the Baha'i community have some aspect relating to improving the social status of women, such as literacy or health programs. Some have focused exclusively on women. The Barli Development Institute for Rural Women in Indore, India, for example, empowers mostly young rural and tribal women to become agents of social change through the acquisition of a wide range of skills and knowledge essential to improving their lives, the welfare of their families, and their village communities.

Since 1970, when the Baha'i International Community (BIC) obtained consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), it has cooperated officially with the United Nations in its work in improving the status of women throughout the world. Since that time, the Baha'i International Community has attended and made presentations at every women's conference sponsored by the United Nations: Mexico City 1975, Copenhagen 1980, Nairobi 1985, Beijing 1995, as well as participating in the annual meetings of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.


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