by Mahmoud Hakamian
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its President Elect Maryam Rajavi believe that gender equality is essential to a Free Iran and as such, they have prepared a list of ten areas that need to be tackled to ensure that women have equal rights to men in Iran.
Let’s explore those ten areas in more detail.
1. Fundamental freedoms and rights
Maryam Rajavi believes that all Iranian women should have equal human rights and fundamental freedoms to Iranian men and that discrimination of any type against women must be abolished. Women will then be equal to men in all economic, social and political spheres.
Maryam Rajavi wrote: “[In a Free Iran,] women are free to choose their place of residence, occupation, and education. They must have the opportunity to travel freely, have the right to freely choose their clothing and spouse, and have the right to leave the country, to obtain foreign citizenship, to devolve citizenship to their children, to divorce, and to obtain custody and guardianship over children.”
2. Equality before the law
Maryam Rajavi believes that women should have the same protections under the laws in Iran as men, including equal rights before the courts.
This would mean that the raising of the criminal age of responsibility for girls in Iran to 18, that testimonies and affidavits from women before a court would hold equal weight to those from men, and that women would have access to guaranteed judicial recourse in the face of violence, rape (and sexual assault), discrimination and deprivation of liberty.
3. Freedom of choosing one’s own clothing
Maryam Rajavi believes that women should be free to choose their own clothing and that the government should not be allowed to interfere in this freedom.
Therefore, Maryam Rajavi would repeal the law mandating forced veiling and any employment laws that allow workplaces to sanction women who do not wear the hijab.
Maryam Rajavi wrote: “Written or unwritten laws on controlling the clothing or behaviour of women under the rubric of “mal-veiling,” which have violated Iranian women’s right to freedom and security, shall have no place in tomorrow’s Iran.”
4. Equal participation in political leadership
Maryam Rajavi believes that women should have equal rights to participate in the country's political leadership,A including the formulation and implementation of government policy, the holding of public office, and the ability to perform all public functions at all levels of government.
Maryam Rajavi believes that any laws that place bans or limitations on women occupying senior posts in the government and the judiciary. Maryam Rajavi also believes that in order to dispense with inequalities the government must appoint women to at least half of its posts and political parties must choose women for at least half of their candidates in any one election cycle.
This is something that the NCRI are already using in their parliament-in-exile.
5. Equality in the economic sphere
Maryam Rajavi believes that women should have equal economic rights to men, which includes equal opportunities in the job market, equal pay and equal employment rights with men.
Maryam Rajavi believes that women should also enjoy equal access to men in terms of inheritance, entering contracts, and management of property.
6. Equality in the family
Maryam Rajavi believes that women should be able to have equal rights in family life, meaning that they can freely choose to marry or divorce and will have equal responsibilities over child-rearing.
This means that women will not be allowed to marry before the legal age, that coercion of women into marriage will be banned and that polygamy will be banned.
It also means that women will have the right to obtain custody of their children and that the employment of children will be banned.
Maryam Rajavi insists that any governmental interference into the private lives of women will be banned.
7. Prohibition of violence
Maryam Rajavi set out the banning of the death penalty and torture in her ten-point plan for a Free Iran, but she also wants to see the prohibition of offensive and degrading treatment of women.
This would include making rape and various other forms of violence against women illegal in all instances as well as criminalising acts of intimidation or forcible deprivation of women’s freedoms.
8. Prohibition of sexual exploitation
Maryam Rajavi also believes that women should be protected from sexual exploitation and as such would ban the sex trade and make the trafficking of women and/or forcing women into prostitution illegal. Maryam Rajavi also wants to prosecute anyone committing sexual crimes against a child.
Maryam Rajavi said: “Any form of sexual exploitation of women under any pretext shall be prohibited and all customs, laws and regulations which allow the parents, guardian or a third party related to a girl or woman to give away the latter to another party for sexual pleasure or exploitation under the pretext of marriage or anything else shall be annulled.”
9. Repealing Mullahs’ Sharia laws
Maryam Rajavi has already mentioned that she would remove the mullahs’ Sharia laws in her ten-point plan for a Free Iran. This is necessary to the rights of women because of the sexist law that it enshrines, such as punishments of stoning and allowing crimes against women.
10. Social benefits
Maryam Rajavi believes that women must have equal access with men to social benefits relating to retirement, unemployment, old age and other forms of disability, and that the depriving of any women- even those hired under temporary contracts- of these benefits will be banned.
Additionally, Maryam Rajavi believes that women have the right to maternity leave and to access medical and nutrition services for free during this time. These women should not be fired, have their wages reduced, or be required to do dangerous jobs during this period
Maryam Rajavi believes that the government should also provide for the nursery and day care requirements of working women and also help support single women to provide for their families.
Maryam Rajavi also believes that women in marginalised groups (ethnic or religious minorities, refugees, immigrants, those from rural areas, prisoners, the young, the disabled, the elderly) should be given special financial, educational and medical support from the government.