In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8th, we’d like to highlight some of the heroines and women that we’ve written about on Baha’i Blog. We’d also like to share some talks, videos, and music all celebrating and honoring women and the equality of women and men.
I think the most fitting place to begin is with a tribute to Bahiyyih Khanum, the Greatest Holy Leaf, who is regarded as the most outstanding heroine of the Baha’i Dispensation. You can also listen to a talk Dr. Janet Khan gave about the ilfe and legacy of Bahiyyih Khanum here on Baha’i Blog.
Sharon offers us a brief description of Tahirih’s life and of her scintillating and outstanding spiritual qualities. There is a lot of material on Baha’i Blog that relates to Tahirih, a peerless heroine. For example, Badie Khaleghian composed a piano solo inspired by her, Hussein Ahdieh wrote about her and her American contemporaries, Pegah Nabili gave a talk about her, Bahiyyih Nakhjavani wrote a novel based on her imprisonment and martyrdom, and Layli wrote a Baha’i Blog article about her spiritual lineage and effects on future generations.
Yas wrote a moving tribute to Amatu’l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum that concludes with her soul-stirring poem “This is Faith”. You can listen to Shadi and Hoda Toloui-Wallace sing that poem here. You can also read about Ruhiyyih Khanum’s Poems of the Passing, a work of poems written after the Guardina’s passing, here on Baha’i Blog.
Few are unmoved when they hear Doug Cameron’s song “Mona with the Children” about Mona Mahmudnizhad, who, in 1983, at the age of 16, together with nine other Baha’i women, was sentenced to death and hanged in Shiraz, Iran, because she was a Baha’i. You can also listen to Tom Francis sing a cover of the famous song, and Neena sings a version of the song too — you can watch her version here. You can also read about Azadeh and Mark Perry’s biography, Our Friend Mona, in this interview on Baha’i Blog.
These are just a few of the tributes and short biographies featured on Baha’i Blog. You’ll also find tributes to Hands of the Cause such as Clara Dunn, Martha Root, Dorothy Baker and Keith Ransom-Kehler. You can read about women who travelled bravely, in the service of others, such as Dr. Susan Moody, Effie Baker, and Leonora Armstrong. You can read about a queen, a custodian who cared for the House of Bab, and a motocross champion, and many other remarkable women from all walks of life!
This is an audio recording of the Beyond Mere Economics: A Moral Inquiry into the Roots of Empowerment statement released by the Baha’i International Community (BIC) for the 62nd UN Commission on the Status of Women (12-23 March 2018).
Elika Mahony, along with her son, Taraz, have put one of her favourite prayers for women revealed by Abdu’l-Baha to soulful music. Elika’s song, titled “Fragrances of Holiness”, can be listened to, or purchased, on her Bandcamp page.
In this article, Chelsea Lee Smith reflects on the noble and sacred role of motherhood, its impact on society and the tremendous influence mothers have on their children. She shares this quotation by Abdu’l-Baha: “O ye loving mothers, know ye that in God’s sight, the best of all ways to worship Him is to educate the children and train them in all the perfections of humankind; and no nobler deed than this can be imagined.” (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 139)
Over the past few years, the U.S. Baha’i Office of Public Affairs have invited some of their colleagues into their office in Washington, D.C. to talk about the equality between women and men. These videos highlights some of those conversations. (You can watch Part 1 one here and you can watch Part 2 here.)
Interwoven with music by Kelly Snook, these audio stories told by Sarah Perceval share glimpses of the lives of 10 women from various corners of the world who changed our world for the better — they include Tahirih, Florence Nightingale, and Rosa Parks.
In this talk produced by Bahaiteachings.org, actress and activist Emily Baldoni speaks about the 35-hour drug-free home birth of her daughter and what it taught her about the strength of her own femininity. In that gruelling process, she realized the power of her qualities of love, peace and compassion. Using the Writings of the Baha’i Faith, Emily proposes ways those crucial feminine traits, so very often belittled and devalued, can help us all—men and women—seriously question and redefine the way we relate to power and advance civilization.
12. Mercy’s Blessing
Mercy’s Blessing is an award-winning film by May Taherzadeh, and it’s not only beautifully made, but this touching story was filmed in the nation of Malawi, where May was raised for many years. The story is inspired by true events, and May is using the film as a tool to create awareness and foster a discourse on issues relating to the equality of women and men, and the importance of educating girls.
This five-page statement was prepared as a contribution to the 61st United Nations Commission on the Status of Women by the Baha’i International Community (BIC). It includes these powerful words: “Women and men are equal, and always have been.” This document examines prosperity, as it relates to “the economic empowerment of women in the changing world of work” and the BIC states that “while the path towards prosperity has many obstacles, it is also paved with hope.”
In this video, Yassin Saar, the creator and director of Starfish International, the girl’s education program in the Gambia, explains what African girls and women need most: choices. Using her mother as a case study, African educator Yassin Saar persuasively and forcefully explains why the Baha’i teachings call for prioritizing the education of girls. Yassin’s mother, the first girl to go to school from her poor rural village in Africa, raised four children, giving all of them a way to have a significant impact on the world. With that model in mind, Yassin discusses the Baha’i model of compulsory education for all children—and the primacy of girl’s education within that framework.
In this episode of the blogcast, Rainn interviews Layli Miller-Muro, founder and Executive Director of the Tahirih Justice Centre, a non-profit which provides free legal services to women and girls who are fleeing human rights abuses. The organization which was founded in 1997 and serves nearly 19,000 women aims to promote a world where women and girls enjoy equality and live in safety and dignity. In this interview Layli and Rainn talk about her aspirations for service as a youth, her early experience as a lawyer, how the Tahirih Justice Centre came about, keeping the Faith at the center of what you do, personal detachment and welcoming tests, engaging with the wider community in your own field, plus a lot more.
In this video, MDthepoet shares his spoken word called “Two Wings”, inspired by the Writings of the Baha’i Faith. “The world of humanity has two wings—one is women and the other men,” wrote Abdu’l-Baha, “Not until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly. Should one wing remain weak, flight is impossible.”
Here are Shadi’s words about what inspired this stunning album: “I reflected a lot on my role as a friend, a sister, daughter, granddaughter and future wife and mother. I guess you could say I was really sensitive to how women were/are perceived and the language and attitude that surrounds us. I was inspired by so many women in my personal life, and those I’d read and heard stories about who’d fought for emancipation and broke down barriers. Many women in the Faith who’d achieved great victories in spreading the Baha’i teachings were single, and in their later years, during a time where society was trying to silence them.”
Prison Poems is a collection of poetry written by Mahvash Sabet on the fifth anniversary of her incarceration. Now released and widely recognized for her literary work, she was a prisoner of conscience who was arrested simply for being a Baha’i, along with six other members of the Yaran (the national level group that guided the affairs of the Baha’i community of Iran of which Mahvash served as secretary).
In this personal reflection, Matt shares his love, his understanding, for the principles of the oneness of religion and the equality of women and men and he celebrates the emergence of feminine qualities at all levels of society.
That concludes our round-up of Baha’i Blog resources that celebrate women! Happy International Women’s Day!