International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women and to highlight the ongoing struggles that women face around the world. In Iran, women continue to fight for their rights, despite the many obstacles they face. It is essential for the international community to support Iranian women and to hold the regime accountable for its human rights violations. Only then we can hope to see meaningful change for women in Iran.
Iran has a long history of women’s rights activism, dating back to the early 20th century. However, the rise of the mullahs’ regime in 1979 brought significant changes to Iranian society, including the imposition of strict gender segregation and dress codes, and the removal of many women’s rights.
Since then, Iranian women have been fighting for their rights on multiple fronts, including education, employment, and political representation. But so far, the regime has impeded these efforts and prevented any progress, thus women still face many challenges and discrimination in Iranian society.
One of the most significant challenges facing Iranian women is the country’s legal system. Iranian law is based on the mullahs’ medieval principles, and women’s rights are often subordinate to those of men. For example, the testimony of two women is required to equal that of one man in court, and the inheritance laws favor male heirs over female ones.
In addition to legal discrimination, women in Iran also face cultural and social barriers. The strict dress codes imposed by the regime restrict women’s clothing choices, and women are often subjected to harassment and abuse if they do not comply with these rules. Women’s participation in sports and other public activities is also often limited, and they are often excluded from leadership positions.
Women are often paid less than men for the same work and are less likely to be promoted to leadership positions. There are also significant gender gaps in fields such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), where women are underrepresented.
One of the main apparatuses of repression against women is the so-called morality police, whose activities like the arrest and killing of the young Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini led to nationwide protests.
This repressive force has been a topic of much debate and criticism, particularly regarding its treatment of women.
All of these restrictions and limitations are justified by the Iranian regime as being necessary to uphold the Islamic values and morals of the society. However, many Iranians, both men, and women have spoken out against these oppressive policies, arguing that they do not reflect the true teachings of Islam and are instead a reflection of this theocracy regime’s desire to control and suppress its citizens.
In conclusion, the treatment of women by the Iranian regime is a clear violation of basic human rights and reflects the regime’s oppressive and morally bankrupt approach to governance. It is in the nature of this theocratic regime to not accept, or better to say, it is not capable of stepping back from its repressive policies and recognizing universal human rights values to respect the rights of all its citizens, regardless of gender. As a result, the regime will continue to be rightly criticized and condemned by the international community.
On March 4th, the Iranian Resistance held an International Women’s Day conference with European and US women leaders supporting the Iranian people’s revolution, emphasizing women’s leading role and highlighting the sacrifices made by the women in the MEK. The keynote speaker at this conference was Maryam Rajavi, NCRI’s president-elect.
Mrs. Rajavi emphasized restoring oppressed people’s rights for democracy, specifically focusing on Iranian women’s freedom and rights. She discussed NCRI’s 36-year-old plan for women’s rights and freedoms. Other speakers included Ms. Sarvenaz Chitsaz, chair of the NCRI Women’s Committee, Linda Chavez, former White House Director of Public Liaison, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, former German Defense Minister, and several other notable figures from Europe and Canada.
Ms. Sarvenaz Chitsaz, Chair of the NCRI Women’s Committee, praised women’s leading role in the 44-year struggle against the clerical regime’s misogynistic policies. She also highlighted the significant contribution of Mrs. Rajavi, the NCRI president-elect, towards achieving women’s empowerment and equality.
Former White House Director of Public Liaison, Linda Chavez, praised the MEK for their decades-long fight against the regime, highlighting their leader Maryam Rajavi’s fearless stance against the government in Tehran.
Former German Defense Minister (2019-2021), Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, voiced her support for a free and democratic Iran while condemning the regime’s destructive policies and fear of people’s political decisions. She also called for international policies that genuinely support the people of Iran in actions and not just words, as they celebrate International Women’s Day.
Dominique Attias, President of the European Law Society Federation and vice-boutonniere of Paris expressed the Iranian people’s desire for freedom and democracy while rejecting the regime’s forced religious laws and the dictatorship of Khamenei and all factions of the government. She noted that the people of Iran are saying no to the Shah, the mullahs, and the dictator.
Latifa Aït Baala, a Member of the Brussels Parliament, emphasized that the struggle for freedom and human rights in Iran goes beyond the hijab. She noted that it also involves minority rights, an end to violence, and the establishment of a democratic state. The Iranian people demand a democratic republic, not a theocracy, as evidenced by the protests worldwide.
Prof. Yakın Ertürk, former UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women (2003-2006), highlighted the long history of Iranian women’s struggle for emancipation from laws and misogynistic practices. She noted that the current protests represent the culmination of nearly two centuries of fighting for civil rights.
Margarita Duran Vadell, former Spanish Senator and journalist praised the leadership of Maryam Rajavi and recognized the sacrifices made by women in the struggle for freedom and dignity in Iran. She acknowledged that Maryam Rajavi leads the main opposition to the mullahs’ regime and that women have been at the forefront of acts of rebellion and opposition, often facing imprisonment, torture, and execution as the price for fighting for freedom and dignity in Iran.
Maria Greca, former Romanian MP, praised the leadership of Madam Rajavi and recognized that women are the driving force for change in Iran. She mentioned the MEK Resistance Units, which are led by women who have sacrificed under two dictatorships, and applauded their efforts toward freedom. She also drew attention to the IRGC’s brutal treatment of innocent girls during the recent uprising and likened it to Iran’s past denial of acid attacks on women.
Kathleen Depoorter, Belgian MP, commended the National Council of Resistance of Iran for their dedication to gender equality and freedom, as well as Mrs. Rajavi’s leadership, empowering women to become political leaders and shape their own future.
Canadian MP Judy A. Sgro denounced the IRGC as a terrorist group and commended Madame Rajavi’s ten-point plan, which she believes can serve as a global model, not just for Iran.
Rama Yade, former French Minister of Human Rights, praised the women’s movement as the driving force of a national revolution. She acknowledged the strength and leadership of the MEK and Mrs. Rajavi, who have been leading the movement for 30 years.
Oleksandra Matviichuk, head of the Center for Civil Liberties (Ukraine) and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize 2022, highlighted the leadership role of women in this revolution. Matviichuk stated that throughout history, all revolutions for freedom, human rights, democracy, and a better future have been initiated by women, young men, poets, architects, and others. She emphasized that the Iranian revolution, led by women, is unique and critical in ending the rule of the oppressive mullahs and dictators who have made Iran a danger to the world.