6. The Equality of Men and Women

The Sixth Basic Baha’i Principle is:
The Equality of Men and Women.

“They must be as the two wings of the soul, each equally developed. The sixth foundation stone, the Sardonyx, is a stone of two layers, one white and one red, symbolical of the two in one who unitedly further the progress of mankind.” – ‘Abdu’l-Baha

Considering the time and place in which Baha’u’llah proclaimed his principles, this one, the equality of men and women, was probably the most revolutionary and startling of them all. And yet it is now the most universally accepted, outwardly at least. Feminine emancipation has swept the world, both West and East, and women have proved their capacity to enter the professions, trades, and arts, on an equal footing with men. But this is only a superficial equality, concessions extorted from a man’s world. Full psychic equality is not yet; men are unwilling to recognize it, and women, owing to thousands of years of inferior education and position, are unable to accept it.

The world of humanity has two wings; one is woman and the other man. Not until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly. Should one wing remain weak, flight is impossible. Not until the world of woman becomes equal to the world of man in the acquisition of virtues and perfection’s, can success and prosperity be attained as they ought to be.” – ‘Abdu’l-Baha

Men and women are not the same, they have different functions. But these functions are complementary and both must be equal for a perfect result. In psychological terms we say there are two principles, Logos the male, and Eros the female. So far, Logos, the active, achieving principle has been dominant in world affairs. Eros, the principle which brings people into relatedness and maintains harmony, has been in the background or confined to the family. But its power and value is unconsciously recognized in the fact that the woman, the hostess, is the important person at a social gathering, the mother in the home. When this force is released into all human affairs, it will accomplish its work between nations, in the human family. The excesses to which women have been lead by their sudden and-swift emancipation, their attempts to achieve equality through sacrifice of femininity, or through outdoing men in masculine activities, offer no standard of judgment for a truly mature sex.

Equality of women does not mean that they must make better males than men, but that they must achieve true maturity of soul. The same obligation rests upon men.

Baha’u’llah declared the equality of men and women, expressed through equal responsibilities and equal rights and privileges. And since that declaration, the bonds by which women have been bound for ages have been breaking, and women have rapidly been securing her rightful place as the equal and partner of man.

Women must go on advancing; they must extend their knowledge of science, literature, history, for the perfection of humanity. Erelong they will receive their Rights. Men will see women in earnest, bearing themselves with dignity, improving the civil and political life, opposed to warfare, demanding suffrage and equal opportunities. I expect to see you advance in all phases of life; then will your brows be crowned with the diadem of eternal glory.” – ‘Abdu’l-Baha

Of great importance is that women should be regarded as the total equals of men. It is their right to enjoy all privileges, an equal education and equal opportunities just as men do. Bringing about the emancipation of women relies on universal education. Girls are to receive as good an education as boys. In fact, the education of girls is of greater importance than that of boys. In time girls will become mothers, and as mothers, they will be the first teachers of the next generation.

Children are like green and tender branches; if the early training is right they grow straight, and if it is wrong they grow crooked; and to the end of their lives they are affected by the training of their earliest years. How important, then, that girls should be well and wisely educated!” – ‘Abdu’l-Baha

Equality is a virtue of right and of principle among the foundation of God’s Teachings. No longer are women held back from their full powerful potency of spiritual endowment. It is incumbent upon men to recognize women as their equal and as their partner in the New World Order. Oneness, Unity, and harmony among mankind can not be achieved unless there is equality between men and women. The oneness of mankind is essential for world harmony and peace, as the common foundation of racial origins be the same, this hold true to the origins of woman and man, we are all of God’s creation, There are no second class citizens in the Kingdom of God.

Humanity is like a bird with two wings- the one is male, the other female. Unless both wings are strong and impelled by some common force, the bird cannot fly heavenwards. According to the spirit of this age, women must advance and fulfill their mission in all departments of life, becoming equal to men, they must be on the same level as men and enjoy equal rights. This is my earnest prayer and it is one of the fundamental principles of Bahá’u’lláh.” – ‘Abdu’l-Baha