BARAKA, The Democratic Republic Of The Congo — Over 2,000 women, men, youth, and children from Baraka and the surrounding area recently gathered to explore insights about the advancement of women gained through decades-long efforts of the Bahá’ís of the region aimed at social progress.
The four-day gathering was held in honor of the forthcoming centenary of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s passing and included officials, a traditional chief of the region, religious leaders, and people of diverse faiths.
In comments shared with the News Service, the vice-mayor of Baraka, Emerite Tabisha, states: “Without women, peace cannot be achieved—neither in the family nor in the community, it is impossible. I was therefore moved by the gathering and had never before heard such profound discussions that regard the participation of women as essential in community-building efforts.”
Discussions drew inspiration from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s life and work in which He placed great emphasis on the advancement of women, likening the equality of women and men to “the two wings on which the bird of humankind is able to soar…” and highlighting the role of women in promoting a culture of peace.
Over the days of the gathering, participants from dozens of villages and neighborhoods explored the relationship between the advancement of women and the building of a prosperous and peaceful society, while planning for an intensification of activities of social action.
Christine Rusia Kiza, a member of the women’s committee of the Bahá’ís of Baraka which organized the conference, states: “The conference stands as a testament to the commitment of the institutions and agencies of the Bahá’ís of Baraka to the spiritual principles of the oneness of humanity and the equality of women and men.”
She continues to describe the unifying approach to the gathering, stating: “Many women and men offered thoughtful talks on gender equality and service to society. Young participants also contributed their perspectives and greatly enhanced the vibrancy and joyful spirit of the gathering. Local choirs from diverse faith communities added to the spiritual atmosphere with songs composed specifically on the discussion themes.”
Vice-mayor Tabisha expressed her appreciation for the gathering, stating: “I am very involved in the women’s movement, and still learned many lessons from the conversations.
She adds: “Had the Bahá’í principles promoting peace and the status of the woman been integrated sooner in the moral life of our society we would have already achieved full equality.”