Empowering the Girl Child

The Bahá’í International Community was particularly pleased that the girl child was identified in the Beijing Platform for Action as a critical area of concern. Bahá’ís have long been active in efforts to address the developmental needs of girls so that they will be able, as women, to contribute fully to the advancement of civilization. Indeed, the Bahá’í writings promise that "when women participate fully and equally in the affairs of the world, when they enter confidently and capably the great arena of laws and politics, war will cease.""1 It is, therefore, highly appropriate that the forty-second Commission on the Status of Women should focus attention on the challenge of creating an enabling environment for empowering girls.

As the Commission consults about actions that might be taken by governments and NGOs to create an environment that will enable girls to develop their capacities and will empower them to participate fully in the affairs of the world, we offer the following suggestions for consideration.

In conclusion, the Bahá’í International Community stands ready to do its share to help create an enabling environment for empowering girls. For, in the Bahá’í view, "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 the equal to the world of men … can success and prosperity be attained as they ought to be."4

The Bahá’í International Community presented this statement to the forty-second Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women held 213 March 1998 in New York City.

NOTES:

  1. 'Abdu'1-Baha', The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdul-Bahá during His visit to the United States and Canada in 1912, 2nd ed. (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1982), p.135.
  2. 'Abdul-Bahá Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 182.
  3. "In brief the assumption of superiority by man will continue to be depressing to the ambition of woman, as if her attainment to equality was creationally impossible; woman's aspiration toward advancement will be checked by it, and she will gradually become hopeless. On the contrary, we must declare that her capacity is equal, even greater than man's. This will inspire her with hope and ambition, and her susceptibilities for advancement will continually increase. She must not be told and taught that she is weaker and inferior in capacity and qualification. If a pupil is told that his intelligence is less than his fellow pupils, it is a very great drawback and handicap to his progress. He must be encouraged to advance by the statement, 'You are most capable, and if you endeavor, you will attain the highest degree."' 'Abdul-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 76-77.
  4. 4.Selections from the Writings of 'Ahdu'1-Baha' (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1997), pp.315-316.

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