Happy mother’s day!
Too all of those who want to know what is the perspective of women in the Baha’i Faith, here are some quotes from the Writings that illustrate the subject. Most of them are from a Compilation on Women which is letters that Shoghi Effendi wrote to individual believers explaining the meaning of some of ‘Abdul’-Baha‘s explanations. Keep in mind the date when these wonderful words were spoken…over 150 years ago when the station of women was deplorable. Women were deprived of so many things that we take for granted today. It was not until the transforming Message that visible changes occurred in the world. A perfect example of this life-changing Message was the heroic Tahirih. Enjoy these beautiful Writings!
Shoghi Effendi wrote: “You are quite right in stating that men and women have basic and distinct qualities. The solution provided in the teachings of Baha’u’llah is not, as you correctly observe, for men to become women, and for women to become men. `Abdu’l-Baha gave us the key to the problem when He taught that the qualities and functions of men and women “complement” each other. He further elucidated this point when He said that the “new age” will be “an age in which the masculine and feminine elements of civilization will be more properly balanced.” (22 April 1981 to an individual believer”.
Concerning your questions about the equality of men and women, this, as `Abdu’l-Baha has often explained, is a fundamental principle of Baha’u’llah; therefore the Laws of the “Aqdas” should be studied in the light of it. Equality between men and women does not, indeed physiologically it cannot, mean identity of functions. In some things women excel men, for others men are better fitted than women, while in very many things the difference of sex is of no effect at all. The differences of function are most apparent in family life. The capacity for motherhood has many far-reaching implications which are recognized in Baha’i Law. For example, when it is not possible to educate all one’s children, daughters receive preference over sons, as mothers are the first educators of the next generation. Again, for physiological reasons, women are granted certain exemptions from fasting that are not applicable to men. (24 July 1975 to an individual believer)
In the Dispensation of Baha’u’llah, women are advancing side by side with men. There is no area or instance where they will lag behind: they have equal rights with men, and will enter, in the future, into all branches of the administration of society. Such will be their elevation that, in every area of endeavour, they will occupy the highest levels in the human world. Rest thou assured. Look not upon their present state. In future, the world of womankind will shine with lustrous brilliance, for such is the will and purpose of Baha’u’llah. At the time of elections the right to vote is the inalienable right of women, and the entrance of women into all human departments is an irrefutable and incontrovertible question. No soul can retard or prevent it. …
And another passage, it is Written: “And among the teachings of Baha’u’llah is the equality of women and men. The world of humanity has two wings–one is women and the other men. Not until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly. Should one wing remain weak, flight is impossible. Not until the world of women becomes equal to the world of men in the acquisition of virtues and perfections, can success and prosperity be attained as they ought to be. (“Selections from the Writings of `Abdu’l-Baha”, sec. 227, p. 302)
When all mankind shall receive the same opportunity of education and the equality of men and women be realized, the foundations of war will be utterly destroyed. Without equality this will be impossible because all differences and distinction are conducive to discord and strife. Equality between men and women is conducive to the abolition of warfare for the reason that women will never be willing to sanction it…. (“The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by `Abdu’l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912”, p. 175)