The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights published a brief video on gender equality in 2021 to commemorate the passing of the fourth anniversary of the United Nations Faith for Rights proclamation. It included a verse from the Guru Granth Sahib that was read by Dr Iqtidar Cheema, who is known for his scholarship and activism in the field of human rights.

The United Nations (UN) is a global body that has been around since its founding in 1945. It currently comprises 193 Member States, and its work is directed by the aims and principles outlined in the Charter that established it. During the course of its history, the United Nations has undergone various reforms in order to remain relevant in an ever-evolving globe.

Dr Iqtidar Cheema quoted a stanza from the 74th page of Guru Granth Sahib, which said, 

hun hukam hoaa miharavaan dhaa ||

pai koi na kisai ran(j)aanadhaa ||

sabh sukhaalee vuTheeaa ih hoaa halemee raaj jeeau ||13||

The quote in Punjabi script can be translate to: 

Now, the Merciful Lord has issued His Command.

Let no one chase after and attack anyone else.

Let all abide in peace, under this Benevolent Rule. ||13||

The video was unveiled on March 30, 2021, at a United Nations session. At the conference, attendees heard from a variety of speakers, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, as well as special rapporteurs from the UN and representatives from civil society organisations.

Cheema, who was a speaker at the conference, asserted that the Guru Granth Sahib contains a message that is applicable to all people. He stated that the condition of women during the time of Guru Nanak was exceedingly dreadful because, according to the Brahmanical caste system, women were assigned a low standing in life. This caused the condition of women during the time of Guru Nanak to be miserable. But, Guru Nanak vigorously advocated for the status of women to be equal, he added.

He asserted that it was an honour for three verses from the Guru Granth Sahib to be included in the United Nations proclamation on faith and rights, and he also declared that it was an honour to have read the verse that dealt with the rights of women in the official United Nations film.

Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, proclaimed that man is born from a woman. She becomes a man’s friend and through her, the future generations come. This statement asserts the fundamental role of women in society and elevates their status. The Guru Granth Sahib Ji also speaks out against the practice of female infanticide and emphasizes the importance of treating all individuals, regardless of gender, with respect and equality. Overall, Guru Granth Sahib Ji's teachings promote gender equality and respect for women, making Sikhism one of the few religions to have such an emphasis on gender equality.


*Based on an article published in NDTV on 1st April 2021


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