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The Baha’i International Community (BIC) has declared that empowering women and girls can help create the world anew.

The BIC released a new statement at the world’s largest women’s rights meeting—happening now at the UN in New York City—called Creating the World Anew: Leaving No One Behind. The statement by the Baha’i International Community addressed to the UN Commission on the Status of Women at the UN says:

A theme as weighty as providing social protection to all, particularly the most vulnerable—a majority of whom are women and children—must be considered in the light of a greater truth: that all of humanity is one, and all must benefit from the shared resources of our shared homeland.

The BIC statement, which follows a long history of the global Baha’i community’s work for gender equity, reflects the core Baha’i principle of the equality of women and men:

Inasmuch as we find no ground for distinction or superiority according to the creative wisdom in the lower kingdoms, is it logical or becoming of man to make such distinction in regard to himself? The male of the animal kingdom does not glory in its being male and superior to the female. In fact, equality exists and is recognized. Why should man, a higher and more intelligent creature, deny and deprive himself of this equality the animals enjoy? His surest index and guide as to the creative intention concerning himself are the conditions and analogies of the kingdoms below him where equality of the sexes is fundamental. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 75-76.

The sixty-third session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), taking place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 11-22 March 2019, is the largest international forum for UN Member States and international actors dedicated to women’s rights and empowerment.

More than 9,000 people are expected to attend the Commission this year, which will focus on social protection systems, access to public services, and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

As part of the Commission, the BIC submitted the statement, which reads, in part:

Given that many of the systems and structures of society were designed precisely to reinforce domination and inequality, significant resources must also be channeled towards learning about effective models of governance, education, and economics structured around an entirely new set of principles: that human beings are one, that women and men are equal, that the emergent powers of the collective can be released through cooperation and reciprocity, and that humanity’s progress will be greatly bolstered by the full participation of all people in creating the world anew.

Other key themes of the statement include:

  • The equality of women and men is an expression of the oneness of humanity. The current social order needs to be remolded in order to both embody and give rise to oneness in its many expressions.
  • Appropriate economic arrangements that do not externalize moral considerations such as justice, environmental stewardship, collective trusteeship, and trustworthiness must be prioritized. The emergence of extreme concentrations of wealth and environmental degradation are singled out as two of the gravest concerns of the current economic order.
  • Initiating an educational process concerned with releasing the full range of human capacities does not need to be delayed until strong infrastructure is in place. This section begins to explore how a shift away from a narrow focus on material resources towards an appreciation for all the resources within a community—spiritual, intellectual, and material—opens up many possibilities for providing education to the most marginalized and hardest to reach populations, often girls.

The BIC will be hosting a panel discussion on Thursday, 14 March, titled “The Role of Education in Advancing Gender Equality.” The discussion will offer perspectives on addressing some of the social forces that entrench inequalities which disadvantage women and girls, appropriate economic arrangements that give rise to equality, and holistic quality education for girls and boys. Read the concept note here

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