Wendi Momen, Enabling Girls to Flourish: How the Bahá’í Teachings Foster the Advancement, Empowerment and Protection of Girls, June 9

2 p.m. Eastern time (7 p.m. in Britain)

For much of history, in many cultures, girls have been at the bottom of their societies. Sometimes considered a burden to a family, sometimes as free labor, sometimes as a source of family wealth by attracting a generous dowry, sometimes chattel to be sold to the highest bidder or to someone who will enslave her, sometimes simply as another, unwanted, mouth to be fed that brings shame to a family desiring the prize of a boy child. Denied education, enough food or a place to sleep safely, sometimes married to an elderly man in a cultural attempt to protect her but leaving her as an outcast child widow, girls were not considered worthy of much consideration even in United Nations resolutions until 1995 when the Fourth United Nations Conference on Women held in Beijing included in its outcome document, the Platform for Action, 12 areas of critical concern, the twelfth being the Girl Child. The Bahá’í writings, on the other hand, have, from the beginning, considered the girl child as a benefit to society, a person who holds in her hands the future of humanity’s well-being, peace, and prosperity. This talk looks briefly at the history of the girl child and delves into the specifics of how the Baha’i teachings advance, empower and protect girls, enabling them to achieve their capacity and to fulfil their destiny.

Wendi Momen is a social activist and advocate, focusing on a cluster of issues that promote social justice: the advancement of women, poverty eradication, health, criminal justice, interfaith harmony, housing, the environment, and business ethics. She is treasurer and trustee of the National Alliance of Women’s Organizations (U.K.), a trustee and secretary of Widows Rights International, and executive board member of the U.K. Civil Society Women’s Alliance. She is a member of the National Spiritual Assembly (the national governing council) of the Bahá’ís of the U.K., co-founder and Governing Board member of Ethical Business Building the Future (ebbf.org) and a board member of the International Environment Forum. She is a member of Soroptimist International. She was a magistrate and lay judge in the family court for 38 years. The author of 13 books, she holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the London School of Economics, of which she is Governor Emeritus. She was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in June 2014 for ‘services to the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, and to the community in Bedfordshire’ and was in March 2024 awarded the King George III Coronational Medal for her individual participation in the Coronation on 6 May 2023.


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