VIENNA — What is the connection between Táhirih—a Bahá’í heroine of women’s emancipation in the nineteenth century—and Marianne Hainisch, founder of Austria’s women’s movement?
This is the subject of exploration in a play titled “Der Siegelring!” which was staged recently at the National Centre of the Bahá’ís of Austria as part of a nationwide open house initiative of the Ministry of Art and Culture to promote public discussion on a range of national issues.
Hainisch, who is recognized as a pioneer of Austria’s women’s movement, advocated for equal access to higher education and established the first high schools for girls in that country.
In an interview with Martha Root—a notable early Bahá’í—Hainisch stated: “I was a young girl, only seventeen years old when I heard of the martyrdom of Táhirih, and I said, ‘I shall try to do for the girls of Austria what Táhirih tried to do and gave her life to…’”
The play was authored by Isma Forghani in 2019 in honor of the bicentenary of the birth of the Báb. “The story follows a conversation between prominent Europeans of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries who had found inspiration in Táhirih’s life as a champion of the equality of women and men,” says Mrs. Forghani.
Nicole Fendesack directed the latest production of the play, which has been performed on many occasions over the past three years. “Through the play,” she says, “we encounter exceptional historical women who have not only influenced the past and the present through their lives and deeds, but who also have so much to say for future generations.”
Corinne Farid, a member of the Bahá’í National Spiritual Assembly of Austria, explains that the play aims to contribute to the discourse on the equality of women and men.
“This play, in its essence, is an exploration of the Bahá’í principle of the oneness of humanity and the elimination of all forms of prejudices,” she says.
Members of the audience continued their exploration of these themes at an exhibit about the efforts of the Bahá’ís of Austria aimed at social progress, which highlighted insights from Bahá’í community-building efforts in neighborhoods throughout that country.