Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the Iranian Resistance, gave an impassioned speech at the headquarters of the opposition People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI, Mujahedin-e Khalq or MEK) in Ashraf 3, Albania, earlier this year in support of women’s progress in the resistance movement.
Maryam Rajavi explained that the gathering, which was attended by women from around the world, would normally happen on International Women’s Day, but that any time when women come together to discuss their mission for freedom and equality becomes a day for women.
Maryam Rajavi said this was particularly true for Iranian women, who are “defying and resisting against a fundamentalist and reactionary regime” based on misogyny, highlighting how women were instrumental in the struggle of against the Shah, naming Fatemeh Amini, Marzieh Uskowi, Azam Rouhi Ahangaran and Ashraf Rajavi, as specific examples who made “great sacrifices”.
Maryam Rajavi said: “The regime which took over in 1979, however, was misogynous and theocratic and retarded Iranian women’s progress. I remember those days quite well. It seemed like a showdown between two opposing forces. The mullahs’ enmity against women, and the latter’s disdain for, and distrust in the new regime started on the very day Khomeini took power.”
Still, Maryam Rajavi said, Iranian women would not give in and began resisting the mullahs. She then began to look at some of the major issues affecting Iranian women today, including political participation, deprivation of their personal and social freedoms, and the legality of discrimination against women.
Maryam Rajavi highlighted that “women have no role in the ruling regime” or its decision-making, but are also deprived of their “rights to travel, marry and have a private life, choose their occupation”, and choose their own clothes. She explained that women are subject to “hideous inequalities” under the clerical regime.
Maryam Rajavi said that Iranian women face “drastic inequalities in job opportunities, in wages, in families, in education, in testimony before a court, in having access to medical services and insurance, in their share of inheritance, in access to sports fields and stadiums, and a long list of denial of rights in every realm”.
However, one of the most pressing issues is that Iranian women are subject to violence and “do not feel safe anywhere”, not least because of the security forces who violently arrest women for not wearing the forced hijab. While the inhumane treatment of women in prisons is common practice, according to Maryam Rajavi, who pointed out that over 90 women have been hanged since the supposed moderate Hassan Rouhani became president.
Maryam Rajavi said: “A deeper look into the reason for the mullahs’ savagery towards women reveals that misogyny is the driving force and the essence of the regime’s suppression of the society in general.”
Another pressing problem for Iranian women is “rampant poverty and destitution”, with 62% of women and girls over 10 being housewives, while those who have a job are not well paid, with the average economic participation of women in the cities of Iran being just 12%.
Maryam Rajavi said: “You must have heard the spin doctors of the regime claiming that if the mullahs were to be overthrown, Iran would experience chaos and disaster. This is while Iranian women are currently living in conditions reminiscent of and even worse than war-torn countries; they are suffering from poverty, destitution, unemployment, and homelessness.”
She continued: “We believe that the common answer to all these problems is freedom and equality. Not just equality and not just freedom. But both freedom and equality. This is the answer to the liberation of women. This is why I have always emphasized that women not only will free themselves but also their societies at large. This is our mission and we are determined to carry it out.”
In our next piece, we will talk about the women in the struggle for freedom in Iran.