Universal House of Justice - women on

In brief, ye should now engage in matters of pure spirituality and not contend with men. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá will tactfully take appropriate steps. Be assured. In the end thou wilt thyself exclaim, "This was indeed supreme wisdom!" I appeal to you to obliterate this contention between men and women.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 361

In this Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, the women go neck and neck with the men. In no movement will they be left behind. Their rights with men are equal in degree. They will enter all the administrative branches of politics. They will attain in all such a degree as well be considered the very highest station of the world of humanity and will take part in all affairs. Rest ye assured. Do ye not look upon the present condition; in the not far distant future the world of women will become all-refulgent and all-glorious. For His Holiness Bahá’u’lláh Hath willed It so! At the time of elections the right to vote is the inalienable right of women, and the entrance of women into all human departments is an irrefutable and incontrovertible question. No soul can retard or prevent it. But there are certain matters, the participation in which is not worthy of women. For example, at the time when the community is taking up vigorous defensive measures against the attack of foes, the women are exempt from military engagement. It may so happen that at a given time warlike and savage tribes may furiously attack the body politic with the intention of carrying on a wholesale slaughter of its members; under such a circumstance defence is necessary, but it is the duty of men to organize and execute such defensive measure and not the women -- because their hearts are tender and they cannot endure the sight of the horror of carnage, even if it is for the sake of defence. From such and similar undertakings the women are exempt.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 613

The House of Justice, however, according to the explicit text of the Law of God, is confined to men; this for a wisdom of the Lord God's, which will ere-long be made manifest as clearly as the sun at high noon.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 79-80

As regards the membership of the International House of Justice, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá states in a Tablet that it is confined to men, and that the wisdom of it will be revealed as manifest as the sun in the future. In any case the believers should know that, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Himself has explicitly stated that sexes are equal except in some cases, the exclusion of women from the International House of Justice should not be surprising. From the fact that there is no equality of functions between the sexes one should not, however, infer that either sex is inherently superior or inferior to the other, or that they are unequal in their rights.

Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 612

As regards your question concerning the membership of the Universal House of Justice: there is a Tablet from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in which He definitely states that the membership of the Universal House is confined to men, and that the wisdom of it will be fully revealed and appreciated in the future. In the local as well as the national Houses of Justice, however, women have the full right of membership. It is, therefore, only to the International House that they cannot be elected. The Bahá’ís should accept this statement of the Master in a spirit of deep faith, confident that there is a divine guidance and wisdom behind it which will be gradually unfolded to the eyes of the world.

Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 369

Finally, there is the question of the membership of the Universal House of Justice being restricted to men. This, likewise, is a provision of the Sacred Writings, as stated clearly by both ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the Guardian. It should be viewed in the light of the principle mentioned above, that election to institutions of Bahá’í administration is regarded as a summons to service and not as an accession to power. It is also significant that the Universal House of Justice has itself written that the fact that its membership is restricted to men cannot be used as an indication that men excel women or that the Bahá’í principle of the equality of the sexes is not valid. As you know, it is a mandate of the Universal House of Justice to ensure the establishment of the equality of men and women, and you are undoubtedly aware of the vigour with which the Bahá’ís are putting this into effect.

Universal House of Justice, Bahá’í Administrative Order, 18 July, 2000