International Women’s Day, and the heart stirring story of Tahirih

“The world of humanity has two wings—one is women and the other men,” wrote ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “Not until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly. Should one wing remain weak, flight is impossible.”

On March 4th and 5th, Humani-T Cafe celebrated the days leading up to International Women’s Day with art. Mahnaz Sobhani, manager of the Humani-T Art Gallery, with the help of 20 other female artists, put together a display of beautiful artwork at both locations. A reception was held at both cafes, and women from various backgrounds shared their art, poetry, dance, and live music.

On both days, the story of Tahirih — an influential female poet and theologian in 19th century Iran — was read. Tahirih’s significance to International Women’s Day lies in the impact she made in Iran during a time when most women were kept illiterate and hidden from the public sphere — she was an exemplar of women’s strength.

From the Tahirih Justice Center website:

Tahirih is remembered for her renowned skill as a poet, her theological insights, her leadership as one of the earliest Bahá’ís, and her ability to organize and inspire women to reject their oppressed status. In a particularly dramatic display of her leadership, Tahirih appeared unveiled before an assemblage of men and gave an eloquent speech about the need to reject old patterns of society. The act was so shocking to the audience that one man stood up and slit his own throat at the sight of her face.*

In 1852, at the age of 38, Tahirih was executed for her beliefs and activities. Her last recorded words were:

 

“You can kill me as soon as you like, but you will never stop the emancipation of women.”

 

The story or Tahirih is one we can keep in our hearts as we celebrate International Women’s Day — a day in which we mark the progress of humanity as it aims to attain the heights of equality.

 

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