Full political partnership
No one alert to the events of recent days can have failed to note the impetus toward fuller recognition of women's rights to equal partnership on the political scene.
It is more than Rep. Geraldine Ferraro's nomination as vice-president on the Democratic ticket, although this was indeed a galvanizing event.
It is an acknowledgment within both major parties in the United States, with a ''ripple effect'' on the world scene where US politics is closely followed, that the time has come to recognize a woman's leadership abilities on their genderless merits.
President Reagan said in his press conference this week, of the Ferraro nomination: ''I think that this is just another step forward in the recognition of the new place of women and that has been long overdue. I think it is significant. I think it was significant when a woman took her place, Sandra Day O'Connor, on the Supreme Court, when we had three women on our Cabinet, and when we have some 1,600 in very responsible positions, presidential appointees, in our administration. But, no, that's a logical step and one that possibly is overdue.''
Vice-President George Bush, who must work out the protocol for opposing the first woman vice-presidential candidate, says he will campaign in ''a genderless fashion'' and keep the attention on the top of the ticket.
Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, one of Mr. Reagan's three women Cabinet appointees as chief United Nations delegate and a strong candidate for secretary of state in a new Reagan administration, said she was ''delighted'' by the Ferraro breakthrough. Mrs. Kirkpatrick reportedly said there had been a barrier to a woman's being considered seriously for the high office, and that women outside the United States would benefit. ''There is an international ripple effect in this affair,'' she said.
It should not be too much to think that if a woman could anticipate consideration for vice-president in 1984 - and for the Republicans, in 1988 - that a campaign by a woman for the presidency itself should no longer be thought beyond women's immediate aspiration.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, wrote at the turn of the century in anticipation of the progress of women in society. She identified Gihon, one of the four biblical rivers, in this context: ''The rights of woman acknowledged morally, civilly, and socially'' (''Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures'').
The riverbanks of leadership in society are themselves widened as the qualities often associated with ''womanly'' leadership - compassion, caring, permanent affection - are included with such ''manly'' attributes as decisiveness and boldness.
Actually, the right concept about a legal, political, or economic challenge cannot reflect on whether a male or a female is thinking it, advocating it, or seeing it to fruition. Why do we attempt to classify - and too often denigrate - a contribution to public debate according to the sex or age or stature or accent of the contributor?
Gender should not be considered a qualifying or disqualifying factor. Character, experience, vision should guide a public's voting for leaders. Nor should Ms. Ferraro or others be given special treatment in campaign give and take. It could be a subtle form of condescension for male opponents to complain they cannot give women candidates the challenge they deserve.
Again, we welcome the Republican and Democratic concurrence on the recognition of women's readiness for the highest elected offices. It has been long in coming. More important, it is right.