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COLLECTIONLetters from the Universal House of Justice
TITLEMeetings for women only
AUTHOR 1 International Teaching Centre
ABSTRACTIt is acceptable and perhaps even sometimes necessary for Bahá'ís to hold gender-segregated meetings.
NOTES Transmitted by email.
TAGSEquality; Gender; Meetings; Women
CONTENT Dearly loved Co-worker,

The Universal House of Justice has considered your email message of 16 July 1997 inquiring whether it is advisable for the friends to organize meetings that are only for women and has provided the following response. On more than one occasion, `Abdu'l-Bahá praised meetings and other activities that had been organized for women, as shown by the following excerpts from His Writings, all of which are cited in the January 1986 Compilation on Women, prepared by the Research Department.

Blessed, blessed are ye for ye have arranged spiritual meetings and engaged in propounding divine proofs and evidences. Ye are intent on vindicating truth in support of the manifest Light of the Cause, through conclusive arguments and proofs based on the sacred scriptures of the past. This is a very noble aim, and this cherished hope a cause of the illumination of all peoples and nations.

From the beginning of existence until the present day, in any of the past cycles and dispensations, no assemblies for women have ever been established and classes for the purpose of spreading the teachings were never held by them. This is one of the characteristics of this glorious Dispensation and this great century. Ye should, most certainly, strive to perfect this assemblage and increase your knowledge of the realities of heavenly mysteries, so that, God willing, in a short time, women will become the same as men; they will take a leading position amongst the learned, will each have a fluent tongue and eloquent speech, and shine like unto lamps of guidance throughout the world. In some respects, women have astonishing capacities; they hasten in their attraction to God, and are intense in their fiery ardour for Him.
(From a Tablet -- translated from Persian)

The establishment of a women's assemblage for the promotion of knowledge is entirely acceptable, but discussions must be confined to educational matters. It should be done in such a way that differences will, day by day, be entirely wiped out, not that, God forbid, it will end in argumentation between men and women. As in the question of the veil, nothing should be done contrary to wisdom. The individual women should, today, follow a course of action which will be the cause of eternal glory to all womankind, so that all women will be illumined. And that lieth in gathering to learn how to teach, in holding meetings to recite the verses, to offer supplications to the kingdom of the Lord of evident signs, and to institute education for the girls.
(From a Tablet -- translated from Persian)

Praised be God, the women believers have organized meetings where they will learn how to teach the Faith, will spread the sweet savours of the Teachings and make plans for training the children.
(Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, sec. 94)

While the following excerpt from a letter written on our behalf to an individual believer indicates that wisdom is needed in the holding of any meetings that are exclusive to one identifiable group, it also acknowledges that such meetings are sometimes necessary:
The ideal perhaps would be for such apparently exclusive meetings to be unnecessary and for peculiar problems, no matter what group was affected by them, to be resolved in an atmosphere in which universal understanding could be achieved and all involved, despite their diverse backgrounds, would behave with sufficient sensitivity and wisdom. But it appears that there will always be the demand for some measure of specialization in different areas of social and spiritual development. There will continue, for example, to be a need for special activities related to youth, children, women and men, and to those of any grouping which is or has been pointedly disadvantaged. But such specialized activities as may be called for should surely not supersede, but rather fall within, the context of the process towards the goal of world unity.
Either Counsellor xxxx or Mrs. xxxx should feel free to share these quotes with the individual referred to if they feel it appropriate.

  With loving Bahá'í greetings,
  The International Teaching Centre

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