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Pro-Democracy Opposition Since 1979

Statement of "Iranian Women’s Movement Coalition" to Propose Their Demands for the Coming Presidental Election

The coalition of several women and civil rights activists and NGOs
The Feminist School
April 30, 2009
Statement

Why form a Coalition during the Election period?

We— as members of the women’s movement in Iran and as civil rights activists from diverse areas such as NGOs, political parties, campaigns, press and trade unions— have realized that there are many ways in which to achieve women’s demands. When it is necessary, we have stepped in unison with one another. Today, we have decided to form another coalition in which to present the demands of women within our country through the pivotal period and space of the presidential election. The only goal of this coalition is to declare women’s demands. We neither support any specific candidate nor are we interfering in a citizen’s right and decision to participate or not in the election. Under this collective action, we present the following:

We want to compel the state-masculinise discourse, which often dominates the electoral domain, to fulfil the needs of civil society, especially the demands of its women citizens that they have delayed and even ignored.

Through our collective action, we want to call the authorities’ attention to their responsibility in not only helping those from high levels of power but also the public and those from amongst the marginalized social strata. If the authorities want to gain the votes of women, students, teachers and other social groups, and if they want to achieve legitimacy, they should strive to fulfil their needs and demands.

We want to show that it is possible to be an effective citizen; we also seek a better and just life even despite the hardest social and political situations. However, the achievement of such is conditioned upon our ability to prove that we, women, have the capacity, awareness and bravery to examine various social strategies. Experience has shown that misogynists occupy each space and opportunity, with women largely absent. And thus women’s lives have faced additional discrimination, inhumane barriers and violent behaviour.

What are we looking for?

Women’s demands from all social strata are founded upon the common goals of legal equality and the elimination of gender, ethnic, and class discrimination. Iranian women, from various social classes and groups, believe that social structures influence gender conditions and relationships. Women have always, alongside men, struggled to achieve democracy, individual and social freedoms, and civil rights. Thus, today like any other day we, in solidarity with other social groups, demand the recognition and fulfilment of our Constitutionally-asserted public freedoms, such as the freedom of expression, freedom to gather, etc. We also demand the halt of various pressures on women, students, labours, teachers, and ethnic and religious groups. However, we know very well that gender equality is the prerequisite for the fulfilment of democracy, sustainable development and reaching a healthy, humane, and violence-free society—one without poverty and injustice.

Thus, as Iranian men and women, we want the Presidential candidate to pay attention to two fundamental demands in his/her policies and programs. No society can be democratic and just—which are the long-standing ideals of Iranian society— without the elimination of discrimination against women.

1- Pursuing Iran’s joining of the Convention of Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) We know that the bill entitled “Iran’s joining of CEDAW” was submitted to the parliament in the seventh cabinet (the first cabinet of Mohammad Khatami); unfortunately, the Guardian Council refused it even after its ratification by the sixth parliament. The parliament then sent the bill to the Expediency Discernment Council, in which the President is a member, to decide on the matter. Despite this delay, we demand that the next president be persistent that Iran joins CEDAW and places the initiative on his/her agenda, with respect to the principles of equality, non-discrimination and justice.

2- We endeavour to eliminate the discriminatory laws against women specifically through the revision of Articles 19, 20, 21 and 115 of the Iranian Constitution with respect to the embodiment of the principle of unconditional gender equality.

We know that changing discriminatory laws is not designated as one of the President’s job responsibilities. Still, we also know that the next cabinet could act effectively in favour of the elimination of the legal discrimination against women through its own facilities and capacities, if and when it believes in women’s equality and understands that this is indeed one of its main duties. The first step would be the insertion of “the principle of gender equality without any provisions” in the Constitution. It would enable people to use their capacities to take effective action toward the elimination of legal discriminations against women.

What will we do?

We take any necessary actions to disseminate women’s demands among the public and authorities. To the best of our abilities, we will engage three levels: the people, civil society and candidates. We hope at least to be able to expand women’s demands among society and authorities through the sphere of the elections. And we will take steps towards the accomplishment of other women’s demands by achieving the basic demands of democracy and justice.

But How?

In this peaceful and collective movement, we will try to determine the future currents of this coalition. This will be achieved through developing an accord among diverse groups within the women’s movement and all those who join. We ask all groups and individuals who seek to join this coalition to please contact us by the email address provided below. We ask them to participate in gatherings and discussion sessions, as well as in the decision-making to be able to spread women’s demands through the expansion of mutual cooperation and thinking.

The statement has been signed by the following groups :

Women’s Field

The Feminist School

Focus on Iranian Women

Women’s Commission of Tahkim Vahdat(Strethening Unity )

Committee of Human Rights Reporters

Farasoo Association (Tabriz)

Pars Women’s Association

Change for Equality in Isfahan

Campaign for One Million Signatures in Qom

The National Association of Women Enterpreneurs

Defenders of Women’s Human Rights

Mothers for Peace

Network of Volunteer Lawyers

Association of Women Enterprenaurs

Women’s Committee of Islamic Associations in East of Iran

Women’s Committee of Ahoorayi’s Childern of Iran

Women’s Department of Islamic Association of Sharif University

Committee of Women and Children’s Supporter

Campaign in Azerbaijan

Association in Support of Citizenship Rights

Campaign for One Million Signatures in Italy

Women’s Committee in Support of Human Rights in Germany

Art and Culture Center

Rahavard Association

Human Rights Committee of Islamic Associations in East of Iran

Iranian Refugees Council in Bremen

Independent Society of Iranian Women in Austria

Campaign for One Million Signatures in Austria

Network of Iran human rights defenders in Germany

Iranian Women’s Association in Montreal

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Read the statement and view the individual signatures in Persian

To sign the statement and support the coalition please contact:

activistwomenforum@gmail.com