Statement by Iranian Women for International Women’s Day
Official statement by a group of Iranian women’s rights activists who participated in a Green gathering commemorating March 8th.
The Feminist School – On the afternoon of March 7, 2010, a ceremony celebrating International Women’s Day took place in Tehran. Participants included Zahra Rahnavard, Minoo Mortazi, Shahla Lahiji, Fatemeh Rakei, Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani, Mansoureh Shojaee, Farzaneh Taheri, Nasrin Sotoudeh, Farideh Mashini, Fatemeh Gavarayi, Shahla Foroozanfar, Parastou Sarmadi, Marzieh Azarafsa and a number of other women’s rights activists and families of prisoners.
Every year in anticipation of International Women’s Day, there is a particularly refreshing feeling in the air. Several days before the celebration and a few days after, women’s groups and associations in Iran begin meeting, making decisions, and planning for events. The hustle and bustle associated with preparing for this day is a testament to the constant and ever lasting presence of women, regardless of the conditions; particularly when the conditions have been difficult and under pressure. Proof of this dynamic presence is the commemoration of International Women’s Day under the very difficult and critical conditions of the past four years.
This year once again, despite the many pressures and constraints imposed, a number of programs and ceremonies were held both openly and behind closed doors by verious groups. One such ceremony and conference was “The Green gathering of women’s rights activists in Iran.”
The commemoration of International Women’s Day by influential female members of the Green movement was a spark of hope for all women’s rights activists who look to the Green movement for defending their identity and rights.
Due to the current restrictions, the ceremony took place with the presence of only a limited number of women’s rights activists and families of those imprisoned during recent events. The groups that were present include Mothers for Peace, The Forward Thinking Religious Women’s Organization, The Women’s Participation Front, a number of members of the Committee Against Violence Toward Women, members of The Feminist School, The Association of Iranian Women, The National and Religious Women’s Association, The Committee of Women Supporting Female Prisoners, and a number of prominent female lawyers.
Those present discussed the importance of collaboration between women with different political and intellectual view points within the women’s movement and the reciprocity between the women’s movement and the Green movement; emphasizing the continued support by both movements for the demands and concerns of women in Iran, particularly the importance of freedom of expression in honour of International Women’s Day.
The first speech was by Minou Mortazi, one of the organizers and sponsors of the event. Other speakers included Marzieh Azarafza, a member of the Women’s Participation Front; Fatemeh Gavarayi, a member of The National Religious Women’s Association; Shahla Lahiji, a member of the Committee Against Violence Toward Women; Fatemeh Rakei, a member of the Forward Thinking Muslem Women’s Party; Farideh Mashini, secretary of the Women’s Participation Front, who spoke of the role of women in the Green movement. Mashini discussed the constructive role of women prisoners in the prison culture as it relates to non-political prisoners and the efforts by Azar Mansouri in jail. Other speakers on International Women’s Day included Shahla Forouzanfar, a member of Mothers for Peace; Parastou Sormadi, wife of political prisoner Hossein Nourinejad; Nasrin Soutoudeh, a lawyer and women’s rights activist; and Mansoureh Shojaie, a member of the Feminist School.
Mansoureh Shojaie reminded all participants of the extensive efforts in the past two decades in the area of women’s rights by prominent Iranian women like Mehrangiz Kar, Shirin Ebadi, Shahla Lahiji, and Simin Behbahani. She honoured all female political prisoners by naming them individually. Mansoureh Shojaie talked about the key roles, the approaches, and methods of the women’s movement in strengthening the Green movement. She also reiterated the importance of collaboration between the various social movements in further developing the Green movement. To conclude she read a prepared statement that upon discussion by those present was approved as the official statement for International Women’s Day. The statement included seven demands in regards to women’s rights in Iran.
The following is the statement by a number of women’s rights activists attending a Green gathering in commemoration of March 8th, with the goal of eliminating discrimination and violence to establish democracy:
Statement by Iranian Women for International Women’s Day
The 8th of March, International Women’s Day, is a reminder of the common protests by women around the world. Women all over this planet have made efforts on this day to declare their demands based on existing socio-economic conditions. Throughout history, Iranian women have made their voices and demands heard across our country. This year, however, the Iranian women celebrate International Women’s Day during a time when a dynamic movement is fighting for the “right to citizenship” and “civil liberties” – a movement in which it can be said that women are bearing the brunt of the responsibilities, and if not, are at minimum equally involved and responsible as their male counterparts. Women are paying a high price in many areas such as detention and imprisonment, deprivation from work and education, being banned from leaving the country, deprivation of their civil liberties, and even death and martyrdom.
Even though Iranian women have played a central role throughout the past 100 years of our history in the advancement of justice and freedom (take for example the Constitutional Revolution, the tobacco movement, the nationalization of oil, the Revolution of 1957, and a variety of other social movements and protests in the past thirty years), and fighting by the side of their male counterparts. This time, however, women have been present in a more determined and informed manner than in the past. They have been cognizant of their gender and have played an active and influential role in the movement. The experiences of the various women’s groups fighting against injustice and discrimination in the past decade (through collaboration, cooperation, campaigns, and various coalitions) were collectively, consciously, and responsibly transferred by women onto the Green movement.
We women demonstrated that we can move in a common direction and resolve social problems and political crises. We find appropriate and intelligent solutions through dialogue, regardless of our ethnic, racial, religious, or social differences. It was these experiences that demonstrated to achieve civil demands, a principle adherence and commitment to non-violence and an ability to remain patient and resist is needed. It also demonstrated that one can hope for change and allowed for the green movement to stay away from any form of violence and conflict.
As a result of these historic efforts and struggles, Iranian women expect their aspirations and demands to be advanced not because they pertain to a specific group but rather as aspirations belonging to society at large, so that our nation can move toward progress and democracy. As such, on the occasion of International Women’s Day, women activists in Iran will once again announce the demands that have been raised by women over the years:
1- Elimination of discrimination against women in all civil laws, including family law, criminal law, etc.
2- Iran to become a member of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.
3The establishment of legal, social, and political frameworks for the reduction of family, legal, political, and social violence.
4- Equal opportunity for women in all administrative, political, and management areas.
5- Elimination of all gender based segregation, in particular segregation in universities and public places, etc.
6- Freedom for peaceful activities for women as it relates to their rights.
7- The release of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, including women and the dismissal of all charges against them.
On the threshold of March 8th, we announce loud and clear that we will remain by the side of the people and the Green activists. We will also continue our independent efforts and will not sit still until we achieve our aspirations and demands, because we are countless. Signed by a number of women activists in Iran.
Translation by: Negar Irani, Persian2English.com