Advancement of women and girls featured at major forum on development

8 June 2018

BRUSSELS — Eight thousand people gathered earlier this week for a major forum focused on the theme: “Women and girls at the forefront of sustainable development.” The occasion was the European Commission’s annual event, European Development Days, which was held on 5 and 6 June in Brussels. Among the many participants, which included non-governmental organizations and faith-based groups, were heads of government, members of royal families, and European officials.

“The advancement of women is not simply about women occupying the same positions as men in our current society or opening room for women to participate within the existing social structures,” said Baha’i International Community (BIC) representative Rachel Bayani in her remarks at a session organized by the BIC Brussels Office on the first day.

“We need new structures and relationships, conceptualized and shaped by women and men together, responding to the needs of an increasingly global and interconnected society,” she continued.

The session, held on 5 June, focused on the education of the girl-child, a subject that the BIC has addressed for many decades and which is rooted in the teachings of Baha’u’llah. Vice President of the European Parliament Heidi Hautala, who addressed the BIC event, emphasized the critical importance of ensuring education for girls in social and economic development efforts.

At the session, the BIC screened Mercy’s Blessing, an award-winning film about the education of girls.

The conference, which closed Wednesday, covered a wide range of topics relating to women’s empowerment and the protection of women’s rights in the context of social and economic development.