The achievement of full equality between women and men is one of the most important prerequisites for global prosperity and the advancement of society. The denial of such equality, in whatever form, 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 and achieve full partnership in all fields of human endeavor will the moral and psychological climate be created in which peace and prosperity can emerge.
In exploring how the existing discourse on the equality of men and women can be advanced, the Institute is asking the following questions:
In the struggle for equality between women and men, how can the basis of human identity be expanded rather than narrowed, so that equality is achieved within a framework of oneness and interdependence rather than a framework of conflict and division?
How can the acquisition of self-knowledge, and awareness of our spiritual nature, be promoted in ways that contribute to the equality of women and men?
How can we move beyond the impasse of cultural relativism in our efforts to establish the equality between women and men?
How can we transform economic structures and processes so that they are conducive to justice and equality among all – including women and men?
How can we reconceptualize power in ways that are conducive to the mutual empowerment of women and men?
As a first step to advance knowledge and insight around these questions, the Institute has articulated an initial discussion paper on the equality of women and men that is informed in part by the efforts of the Bahá’í community to advance gender equality in tens of thousands of localities around the globe, and in part by collaborative processes of consultation and reflection with diverse individuals and groups who have been working to promote gender equality in their own spheres. As a next step the Institute is inviting interested individuals and organizations to study and reflect on this document in small discussion groups, in order to contribute to the development of a more coherent discourse on the equality of women and men, rooted in the complementary insights of both science and religion.