One of the primary principles of the Baha’i teachings—the absolute equality of the sexes—made its way to the United Nations recently.

That happened when the Baha’i International Community released its new statement on the advancement of women and the vital relationship between gender equality and true prosperity.

The Baha'i International Community has released a new statement on the advancement of women and the vital relationship between gender equality and true prosperity.

The Baha’i International Community has released a new statement on the advancement of women and the vital relationship between gender equality and true prosperity.

The document, published in preparation for the Commission on the Status of Women held at the United Nations this week, highlights the Baha’i view on achieving global prosperity through the emancipation of women. The Commission—the UN’s principal annual global forum for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women—promotes women’s rights and shapes global standards for equality.

The BIC’s statement, “Toward Prosperity: The Role of Women and Men in Building a Flourishing World Civilization”, connects the equality of women and men with the advancement of society in general.

The statement explores a holistic conception of progress, calling for a vision beyond mere economic prosperity. The advancement of women must entail more than economic empowerment, argues the BIC. Women play a pivotal role in social transformation for a more just, peaceful, and equitable world when they are able to meaningfully participate in every sphere of life.

Although there have been substantial strides in gender equality over the decades, far more remains to be accomplished, the new statement says. Access to education and other important areas have greatly increased; however, systematic and structural injustice continues to suppress women’s potential and serves as a major obstacle to progress. The statement says:

Until these inequalities are thoroughly uprooted from the fabric of society, humanity will remain mired in the conflict, despair, confusion, and imbalance that have come to define much of modern life.

Yet the publication describes the path towards prosperity, despite its many obstacles, as paved with hope.

The Baha’i teachings express that hope in many places and in many ways. Abdu’l-Baha confidently predicted that no one could retard or prevent the advancement of women:

In this Revelation of Baha’u’llah, the women go neck and neck with the men. In no movement will they be left behind. Their rights with men are equal in degree. They will enter all the administrative branches of politics. They will attain in all such a degree as will be considered the very highest station of the world of humanity and will take part in all affairs. Rest ye assured. Do ye not look upon the present conditions; in the not far distant future the world of women will become all-refulgent and all-glorious, For His Holiness Baha’u’llah Hath Willed It so! 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. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 182-183.

The BIC United Nations Office New York will explore these issues during the Commission, which will take place from 13–24 March. Information about the sessions the BIC will host and participate in is available here.

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BahaiTeachings.org or any institution of the Baha’i Faith.

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