Iran / Women’s Rights
To all Iranian women engaged in the fight for equality,
On International Women’s Day, 8 March, as we reaffirm that women’s rights are human rights, on behalf of FIDH and its member organizations around the world, I wish to express our solidarity with you, the women of Iran who continue your daily fight for equality and dignity.
Whilst repression against civil society movements generally has increased over the past years in Iran, we are aware that those fighting for women’s rights are a particular target of this repression. Today we wish to reaffirm our support for the courageous combat that the women of Iran are leading.
We express our strongest support and admiration for the initiative you launched over a year and half ago: the Campaign for Equality, known worldwide as the "One Million Signatures Campaign"aimed at the abolition of discriminatory laws and raising general awareness on women’s rights. Your movement is an example to all of us, for its peaceful action, its legitimate goals and its wide reach. We admire your persistence despite the risks, repression and the censure that you are undergoing. By uniting women and men, from diverse social backgrounds, you are succeeding in highlighting that women’s rights concern all of us and that progress can only result from a collective movement.
We express our solidarity with all the women who, on the basis of their engagement in this campaign, have been arbitrarily arrested, detained, and convicted, on the basis that defending women’s rights in Iran is today considered as a threat to State security. We express our particular support for Ronak Safarzadeh and Hana Abdi, arrested in October and November 2007 and arbitrarily detained since then, without any charge nor trial, for the mere peaceful exercise of their rights.
In the face of legislation denying women their most basic rights, you represent hope for all women in Iran. The hope that one day, women in Iran will not have to fear daily arbitrariness and torture for having looked for a decent future. Your commitment is not forgotten. You are not forgotten. We, defenders of human rights, pay respect to the force of your convictions, your courage and your perseverance.
On this day, a day dedicated to you, we think of those women who, in the face of grave threats to their freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly, cannot publicly mark this symbolic occasion. We look forward to better days when International Women’s Day will no longer marked by acts of repression against women in Iran, but by the celebration of women’s rights and equality.
Souhayr Belhassen President of the FIDH
by Marwa Sabah Sat Mar 8, 10:19 AM ET
BAGHDAD (AFP) - Scores of women rallied outside a Baghdad hotel on Saturday demanding an end to violence and equal social status with men as part of the observations of.
"Stop neglecting women. Stop killing women. Stop creating widows," read a large banner that the women, from various ethnic and religious backgrounds, held at the Babylon Hotel in Baghdad's central Karada neighbourhood.
After the rally, the protesters joined a much larger group that included men and children at a hotel conference room to hear from various speakers.
One of the speakers was Nariman Mahmoud Othman, minister for women's rights, who led a delegation of women to the office of the head of Iraq's parliament, Mahmoud Mashhadani, with a list of issues concerning women's rights they wanted to discuss.
The list also called for more women to be appointed to positions of power, including ministries and embassies.
Another speaker was Maisoon Al-Damloji, a female member of parliament from the secular Iraqia party.
"We are united today in our desire to spread the peace in our country," she said. "We reject murder, torture and revenge."
Women in"suffered during Saddam's time and during the embargo, and now are suffering because of sectarian violence," she said.
Iraq's constitution reserves 25 percent of the country's 275 seats of parliament for women, though not all are currently filled because in some cases female candidates were unavailable.
Orbia Tawfiq, a professor at Baghdad's College of Arts, said "we demand that women be given their rights. They should not be oppressed and they should be treated like human beings.
"Women must not be treated as commodities. They must be granted freedom in choosing their husbands and careers," she said.
Mohar Abdel Hamid, 38, said that the needs of widows like herself must be addressed.
"I hope the government listens to us because women have always suffered in Iraq," she told AFP.
A recent report by US-based Women For Women International said the state of Iraqi women since the March 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq has become a "national crisis."
According to the report, released Thursday, 64 percent of the women surveyed said violence against them had increased since the war.
"When asked why, respondents most commonly said that there is less respect for women's rights than before, that women are thought of as possessions and that the economy has gotten worse," it said.
The report also found that 76 percent of the women interviewed said that girls in their families were forbidden from attending school.