Prioritizing Women: Exigencies of Equality in an Age Transcending Patriarchy
The spiritual planetary civilization that is destined to be born out of the current international, humanitarian, and moral chaos will carry with it a shining jewel of accomplishment – the establishment of absolute equality between female and male sexes. Within a majority of rural and urban societies a pervasive institutional and attitudinal bias against women and girls can at present be perceived – biases, the transformation of which, will remain the goal of united development efforts which seek to give a strategic vision to globalization for some time to come.
That men and women are equal must be asserted explicitly and emphatically in all endeavours at the level of principle in order to prevent the overt, as well as to obviate the more subtle, forms of cultural or implicit masculine superiority. Metaphysically speaking, the religious knowledge that the soul lacks both gender and race proves a most formidable ally in the modern quest for social justice against the forces of ignorance and prejudice that have from the dawn of time plagued the fortunes of women and minorities.
According to values that are rewarded in the modern marketplace – intelligence, work ethic, and creativity – women are man’s rival if not his superior, scientifically speaking. Yet during Nazi Germany, science was used to substantiate social claims to rights and privileges that were erroneously founded. Religion, as the other system of knowledge and praxis to which the cause of social justice might appeal, demonstrates only a meagre history of advancing the station of women in ancient times, but recently has become synonymous with regressive doctrines and oppressive ecclesiastical hierarchies. The original spirit of the Christian or Islamic religions cannot be blamed for this eventuality as much as its corrupt and antiquated clerical order can in its pursuit of power.
The teachings of Jesus were largely silent on advancing the societal role of women, while the laws of Muhammad – defending the right to life of female infants – was certainly progressive in the context of Arabian tribal law. Nevertheless, society has evolved, and Biblical or Quranic conceptions of female gender roles no longer satisfy the soul of the modern social justice movement. However, these religious teachings can regain legitimacy in the context of an understanding of progressive revelation – in which religious truth is understood to be relative and not absolute, progressively revealed over successive advents of Manifestations or Prophets, corresponding to and driving the process of spiritual civilization. After arab muslims acknowledged the right to life of female infants why would it still seem necessary now to wear the hijab in an age when civilization is breaking into the daylight of equal rights and equal social responsibilities? Why would a church like Catholicism – formulated in medieval times – project its chauvinistic original culture onto times that lie well beyond the scope of those cultures and customs? If Muhammad or Jesus were indeed to return, they would proclaim the equality and empowerment of women beyond Quranic and Biblical terms.
Lip service is the motto of modern politics – and in issues of social justice activists are too familiar with the pandering of campaign rhetoric amounting to nothing more than a stepping stone for a politician’s will to power. To prevent ideals of this kind from degenerating into political pandering or academic exercise, coherence between means and ends is needed, a coherence in which women and men both carry out the work of transformation in human endeavours – scientific, political, economic, and cultural – side by side, in serried lines, with equal rights and equal rewards.
Practically, resource allocation and policies specifically aimed at increasing accessibility and quality of education available to women is one initial paramount step. The UN and global consensus has shown encouraging progress on the primacy of education for the girl child in pursuance to this imperative.
Institutional structure is the most exciting element of reform that will come to characterize transformation towards a spiritual civilization. No institution, western or eastern, rural or urban, modern or indigenous, will stand immune to its exigencies. Equality of women and men does not imply the inclusion of women in all the current, often corrupt, activities of men – but rather the upliftment of both gender roles in novel social institutions.
Nation-state formulations of institutional structure force the individual who occupies them, whether man or woman, to exemplify the hyper-masculine characteristics of aggression, combativeness, and power-mongering. In light of spiritual conceptions of gender equity, human nature can be re-envisioned constituting more compassionate, intuitive, cooperative, and mutualistic modes of existence and institutional arrangement. New global structures will emerge as women take the helm in multiple fields of human endeavour, engendering a departure from war and violence, a re-awakening of the spirit of collaboration and empathy, on a scale hitherto unimagined. Without women in control, the world of man is simply lost.