Friday, March 31, 2006

"You Go Girl!"

I missed the opportunity to do much gender equality blogging during Women's History Month so wanted to make sure to do at least one post about this all-important subject. I recently read a nice article on the website Muslim Wake Up! The beginning of this article is below:

Muslim Women Raise Voices Worldwide
By Raheel Raza

During the height of the Danish cartoon controversy, Canadian media interviewed male Muslim leaders exclusively, without bothering to seek out leaders among Muslim women. It’s a given that Muslim leaders are men, preferably with beards. Haideh Moghissi, Professor of Sociology, York University, says that rigid, unforgiving and sexist voices are considered voice of authentic Muslims by Western media. When a Muslim woman speaks out or assumes a leadership role, she’s called militant. Yet the struggle for sexual equality and leadership among Muslim women is gaining strength around the world. (You can read the full article here.)

Baha'i Teaching on the equality of women and men is unambiguous. Baha'u'llah, Founder of the Baha'i Faith has written emphatically: "Women and men have been and will always be equal in the sight of God." Moreover, gender equality is a non-negotiable pre-requisite to world peace:

"The emancipation of women, the achievement of full equality between the sexes, is one of the most important, though less acknowledged pre-requisites of peace. The denial of such equality perpetrates 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. There are no grounds, moral, practical, or biological, upon which such denial can be justified. Only as women are welcomed into full partnership in all fields of human endeavour will the moral and psychological climate be created in which international peace can emerge."
(From The Promise of World Peace, Universal House of Justice 1985)

That women are emerging as some of the most dynamic forces for transformation in Islam, as well as other religions comes as no surprise to Baha'is. The Baha'i Writings have this to say about the important role that women have played in the spread and development of the Faith:

"I am moved, at this juncture, as I am reminded of the share which, ever since the inception of the Faith in the West, the handmaidens of Bahá'u'lláh, as distinguished from the men, have had in opening up, single-handed, so many, such diversified, and widely-scattered countries over the whole surface of the globe, not only to pay a tribute to such apostolic fervor as is truly reminiscent of those heroic men who were responsible for the birth of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, but also to stress the significance of such a preponderating share which the women of the West have had and are having in the establishment of His Faith throughout the whole world. 'Among the miracles,' 'Abdu'l-Bahá Himself has testified, 'which distinguish this sacred Dispensation is this, that women have evinced a greater boldness than men when enlisted in the ranks of the Faith.'
Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, pp. 57-58 70

So to my sisters across the globe who are struggling to lead humanity toward that Peace promised in all the Holy Books I say, "YOU GO GIRL!"