Viewpoint: The Equality of Men and Women

One of the clear indicators that we live in a New Age is the growing acceptance of the principle of the equality of men and women. In spite of the beliefs of former generations that men were superior to women, a belief that existed in nearly every society and culture around the world; the realization that men and women are equal is becoming more and more established.

In reality God has created all mankind and in His estimation there is no distinction as to male and female. Our true reality is spiritual and the human soul has no gender. The one whose soul is pure is acceptable in the sight of God. God judges human actions and the qualities reflected in the human soul, whether they be from men or women.

But indeed the world of humanity does consist of two parts, male and female, both are important, each is the complement of the other. If one part should be defective or underdeveloped, the other will necessarily be incomplete and perfection cannot be attained. As an illustration, those of us who rear yard fouls know very well that if we clip only one wing of the birds we mind, it will ensure that the fowls will not fly properly, but will stay in the yard. Any attempt to fly will result in the bird merely going around in circles on the ground. We do this intentionally to prevent the bird from flying too high.

Now, thankfully, we know differently. We now understand that the lack of progress of women in the past was not due to nature or any innate deficiency, but due to the need of equal education and opportunity, which was then, unavailable. It is clear that had women been allowed this equality, they would have been the counterpart of men in ability and capacity. As long as women are prevented from attaining their potential, men will also be unable to achieve the greatness which could be theirs.

The world in the past has been ruled by force and man has dominated over women by reason of his more powerful and aggressive qualities both of body and mind. But now we can see that the balance is shifting and we see that force is losing its dominance – other qualities in which women are strong, such as intuition, love, service, compassion, tenderness of heart, receptiveness and peace are gaining ascendancy.

Today, more and more we see women working shoulder to shoulder with men, in occupations, careers and influential positions which were not so very long ago closed to them. But what seems perhaps as important as the opportunities now open to women in work and service to humanity is the manner in which women approach everything they do. The solution to the equality of men and women is not that women should become like men, but that in whatever they do, they must manifest their unique qualities of spirit so that the masculine and feminine elements of civilization, the wings of the bird of humanity, will be more properly balanced.

No better example exists than in the role of the mother as the first educator of the children. They are the ones who nurture spiritual qualities and virtues in their children’s natures, who encourage the children to acquire perfections, good manners, firmness, resolve, endurance under hardship and warn them against unbecoming qualities. Women are by nature advocates of peace; they influence their children in ways that can shape society… and the most urgent question that needs resolving here in Guyana and around the world is this:

How can the present condition of the world with its entrenched pattern of conflict and violence change to a world in which harmony, cooperation, peace and unity will prevail?

Only with the firm and unshakeable consciousness of the oneness of humanity, with the recognition and application of this spiritual truth… will Guyana and the world move towards this goal. Recognition of the oneness of mankind requires abandoning all forms of prejudice, including the belief that women are somehow inferior… this and any belief which enables anyone to consider themselves superior to others.

We as women must recognize the part which we have to play, we must be convinced of its importance, and convinced of our ability to carry it out. We must know that the advancement of women in all aspects of development is the will of God in this Day. We must seize every opportunity to develop ourselves mentally, physically but especially spiritually so that who we are is more important than the position or job that we may hold; so that we can influence our communities, our workplaces, our families and loved ones and create the conditions in our homes that will be conducive to raising children who believe in the oneness of humanity in all its aspects and applications.

The Bahá'í Writings state: “Woman must endeavor then to attain greater perfection to be man’s equal in every respect to make progress in all in which she has been backward, so that man will be compelled to acknowledge her equality of capacity and attainment… Women must make the greatest effort to acquire spiritual power and to increase in the virtue of wisdom and holiness until their enlightenment and striving succeeds in bringing about the unity of mankind.”