NCRI WOMEN'S COMMITTEE

Works extensively with Iranian women outside the country and maintains a permanent contact with women inside Iran. The Women’s Committee is actively involved with many women's rights organizations and NGO's and the Iranian diaspora. The committee is a major source of much of the information received from inside Iran with regards to women. Attending UN Human Rights Commission meetings and other international or regional conferences on women’s issues, and engaging in a relentless battle against the Iranian regime's misogyny are part of the activities of members and associates of the committee.

On Saturday, February 27, 2016, on the eve of the International Women’s Day, a grand gathering entitled,“Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism”


was held in the presence of Maryam Rajavi and a number of political dignitaries, intellectuals, prominent personalities, and activists of the equality movement from 26 countries and four continents.

The keynote speaker was the Iranian Resistance's President-elect Maryam Rajavi, who addressed the Iranian sham elections, the plight of women in Iran and the role of women as the main force capable of confronting and uprooting fundamentalism. She called on women in Iran and the world over to unite to bring freedom to Iran, peace to the Middle East and security to the world.

Amongst the speakers were Linda Chavez, former White House Director of Public Liaison and US expert to UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights; Rama Yade, former French Minister of Human Rights; Ingrid Betancourt, former Colombian presidential candidate; Rita Sussmuth, former President of German Bundestag; Ranjana Kumari, Director of the Centre for Social Research and 5th winner of the Lotus Leadership Award from India;  Nagham Ghaderi, Vice-President of Syrian National Coalition; Rashida Manjoo and Yakin Ertuk, former UN Special Rapporteurs on Violence against Women; Christine Ockrent, French journalist, writer and renowned TV commentator; Beatriz Becerra, member of the European parliament from Spain; Stefania Pezzopane, Italian Senator; Margarita Dur-an Vadell, Spanish Senator; Fatiha Bakkali on behalf of women legislators from Morocco; Najima Thay Thay, former Minister of Education and Youth from Morraco; Anissa Boumediene, former first lady of Algeria,  Islamic scholar and jurist; Azza Heikal, Egyptian writer and professor of Arab Academic University affiliated with the Arab League and a leader of women’s council of Arab tribes; Majedeh Novaishi, Vice-President of Arab Women Representatives Coalition from Egypt; Drita Avdyli, former Deputy Minister and current Chairwoman of National Chamber of Mediation, Diana Culi, writer journalist and politician, Sevim Arbana, founder of organization Useful to Albanian Women from Albania; a delegation of jurists, including Fatoumata Dembélé Diarra (Mali), Kristy Brimelow and Sara Chandler (Britain), Chair of Human Rights Commission of Federation of European Bar Associations; Maria Candida Almeida, Attorney General Deputy in the Supreme Court (Portugal); Zinat Mir-Hashemi, member of the National Council of Resistance of Iran and member of the Central Committee of the Cherik-hay-e Fedaii Organization (OPFGI); Safora Sadidi, member of PMOI Central Council; and a number of chairs of associations and communities and youth supportive of the Iranian Resistance.

Ms. Sarvnaz Chitsaz, Chair of NCRI Women’s Committee, Ms. Zolal Habibi, member of PMOI Central Council, and Ms. Linda Chavez were the moderators of the program. 

Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives; Baroness Boothroyd, former speaker of UK House of Commons; US Congresswomen Loretta Sanchez and Judy Chu; and prominent French anthropologist and writer Françoise Heritier sent messages to the conference.

The speakers discussed ways of confronting Islamic extremism as the world's main challenge. Pointing to the successful example of the Iranian Resistance in realizing women's equality and pioneering role in all areas of struggle against fundamentalism, they stressed on Mrs. Rajavi's leadership.

They declared that women are the main victims of fundamentalism. With solidarity and unity of action, they can play a significant and key role in combatting this ominous phenomenon that has surpassed all geographic borders and all limits of violence, today. The grand gathering featured a performance by a Syrian child depicting the pain and suffering of the people of Syria, performances portraying executions of young Iranian women and the role of mothers of political prisoners, also the tragedy of acid attacks on young women of Iran.

 

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Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran

Excerpts of remarks at the IWD gathering, "Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism"

February 27, 2016 - Paris

In her speech to the conference, Mrs. Rajavi addressed the Iranian regime’s sham elections saying that what was held was not an election of people's representatives. It was a competition between the incumbent and former officials in charge of torture, execution and export of terrorism; something that foiled the myth of moderation of the regime.

As such, the sham election met with repugnance of the majority of the Iranian people and especially the youth. By holding this election, Khamenei seeks to further concentrate his regime on the war in Syria and on the misogynous suppression in Iran. However, it will be the beginning of an era of unprecedented fragility and decadence of the Velayat-e Faqih and he will not be able to do away with the consequences.

She added: "Mandatory veil, is an all-inclusive and permanent tool for suppression of women. In a matter of only one year, 3.6 million women were inspected and questioned on the streets for "improper veiling" and 18,000 women were put on trial. Common practice of violence and rape against women and widespread addiction and misery of women are among products of the mullahs' corrupt Sharia. In Iran under the rule of the mullahs, polygamy, anti-human treatment of women and girl children, sexual abuse of girl children under 9 years of age are justified and imposed on women. Velayat-e Faqih is a senseless monopoly that is confronting women's equal rights full force.

Maryam Rajavi said: They have turned Iran into a big prison for women.

She reiterated: Anything that promotes compulsion, denies people's free choice and anything that denies women's equal rights is not Islam but against Islam. We do not tolerate violation of women's rights in the guise of religion or under any other pretext. In the face of extremism, fundamentalism and exploiting the religion, we advocate democratic Islam. By realization of women's equality and their active and equal participation in political leadership, we seek to turn this century in the name of women into the era of women's emancipation. Our plan for tomorrow's Iran is to establish a democracy based on freedom, equality and separation of religion and state, where death penalty is abolished. Equality in basic rights and freedoms, equality before the law, economic equality, equality in the family as well as freedom of choice of clothing and active and equal participation in political leadership.

Mrs. Rajavi addressed Iranian women and said: You and your pioneering sisters in Camp Liberty can and must sweep away the mullahs' religious tyranny and all the fundamentalist groups emanating from it under any name. You can restore freedom to Iran, peace to the region and security to the world. You deserve to take your fate in your own hands in an Iran without Velayat-e Faqih. Women of the Iranian Resistance struggle so that the people of Iran, and especially women, could be free and able to exercise their right in determining their own destiny.

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Rita Süssmuth, President of the German Bundestag (1988-1998)

Excerpts of remarks at the IWD gathering, "Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism"

February 27, 2016 - Paris

Let’s differentiate between Muslims and Islamic fundamentalism, because when we don’t do that, we tend to follow those who say they are all fundamentalists.

They are all terrorists, believe me, I don’t trust any fundamentalist totalitarian power to do reforms. Those men, it’s mostly men, insist on having unchecked power over other human beings…

As long as we keep silent, it’s kind of saying yes to what is going on in the world.

We are strong enough, and I felt it when this afternoon I saw that we have so much energy in this room and so much female, and at the same time male, energy against intolerance.

Let us stick together and act together, and we as chairs of this new group, we are convinced we can organize women’s force…

We will not destroy all kinds of violence, that’s a long journey…. But it’s just the right moment in our world… We have to act now. And with the United Nations, with the program of women's empowerment, we are strong enough. The thing is that we have to stop the process of learning first, then participating. Let’s participate, as these women in the resistance have done. We follow you. And we will follow you, Madam Rajavi, because all democratic societies need leaders. And each of us can be a leader in a small world, living and connecting with other women and men to stop this inhuman treatment of human beings….

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Rama Yade, Minister of Human Rights, France (2007-2009)

Excerpts of remarks at the IWD gathering, "Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism"

February 27, 2016 - Paris

As the Iranian elections were underway, a false propaganda befell France, Europe and the West: the myth of a feminist revolution in Iran by the mullahs and Rouhani.

I want to say here that this is false: if there is to be an Iranian revolution in Iran, it will come through the National Council of Resistance of Iran. For the 35 million women in Iran today, there is no moderation. They want to be recognized as full citizens but today they are not considered as such.

Hear for yourself: about 2000 people have been executed under the single term of Rouhani, often in public, among them there were 63 women. There is systematic and institutionalized discrimination against women even in their everyday lives. And it all starts early: They are held criminally responsible at the age of nine. If later they want to study, they are forbidden from study engineering or mathematics in some public universities….

These exceptional women are the pride of the history of women's struggle in Iran, and behind them is a generation that can no longer wait. They are the vanguards of the Iranian Resistance as they were the first to protest against compulsory veil in the early days of the regime, the first to be imprisoned, to be tortured and even executed; in the same way, they were the first to go into hiding. These women, including girls, have broken all taboos, made all the sacrifices and trained men in this fight. These women, famous or anonymous, are not only daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, grandmothers, they are heroines. Their fight is not Iran, it is universal. They do not lead only for themselves but also for us. That is why we are paying tribute to them today.

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Rashida Manjoo,

Former UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences until July 2015

Excerpts of remarks at the IWD gathering, "Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism"

February 27, 2016 - Paris

I served as the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences from 2009 to 2015. Holding this position over the past six years has been a privilege, as it has allowed me a global overview of the issue of violence against women. Unfortunately, it has been humanly impossible to examine and reflect on all manifestations in all geographic locations, in my quest to render visible the invisible, and to push the conceptual understandings on violence against women, its causes and consequences. I am extremely grateful to all of you for the work that you do, and I thank you for the contributions you make in working towards the elimination of violence against women….

Violence against women impedes women’s realization of a broad range of human rights that are essential to the exercise of full participatory citizenship. Although, progress has been achieved in advancing women and girl’s human rights and also gender equality at the national, regional and international level, there are gaps and challenges that have not been adequately addressed. Continuing and new sets of challenges that hamper efforts to promote the human rights of women and girls can be linked largely to the lack of a holistic approach that addresses individual, institutional and structural factors that are a cause and a consequence of violence against women and girls. Through the work of the mandate I have observed that a culture of impunity persists and this contributes to the impossibility of achieving the goal of a life free of violence….

The international community explicitly acknowledged violence against women as a human rights issue when it adopted the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action at the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993. It is my view, States are not being held accountable for failing in their responsibility to promote the rights of women and girls, including through the provision of effective redress measures for human rights violations. The lack of accountability at national, regional and international levels has resulted in a culture of impunity for crimes against women, and this in turn has led to the normalization of violence against women in many societies….

Concerns raised more than two decades ago reaffirm my view that it is time to consider the adoption of a United Nations binding international instrument on violence against women and girls, with its own universal monitoring body. Such an instrument would ensure that States are held accountable to standards that are legally binding; it would provide a globally applicable comprehensive normative framework for the protection of women and girls from all forms of violence; it would have a specific monitoring body to substantively provide in-depth analysis of both general and country-level developments; and it would serve an educative function. Addressing the normative gap in international law is an imperative that cannot be ignored.

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Yakin Ertürk

UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women (2003-2006)

Excerpts of remarks at the IWD gathering, "Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism"

February 27, 2016 - Paris

In 2005, I went back to Iran as the UN special rapporteur and I must say, I went at the invitation of the Iranian government, which provided me an opportunity to see things as they were happening, unfolding in Iran. And I have not only talked with officials, but also with several society agents and human rights defenders, women’s organizations, victims of violence and many young women awaiting execution in Evin prison.

It was an experience that I will never forget. And I have written my findings in a report to the Human Rights Council, and Madam Rajavi referred to this report. I’m happy that the report has been useful for your struggles, because unless civil society actors use these reports for their ends, UN reports and special reporters have no meaning…

While we continue to observe the developments in Iran with concern, I must make one caution, that extremism and fundamentalism is not a new phenomenon, it is not limited to Iran, and it has not ended with Iran unfortunately. If that were the case, our task would have been simpler.

I remember Beijing + 5 in 2000, which took place in New York, at the UN headquarters. The UN corridors were full of coalitions of hardliners from all religions, joining forces to stop the Beijing process which they saw as a most dangerous mission, the most dangerous project because it gave women autonomous space. So the idea is to prevent women from being able to control their own lives, control their own bodies, whether you do this with repression as is done in extremist movements, or done in different forms which are less noticeable. I think we need to be vigilant, we need to respond to all levels of transgression on women’s lives and on fundamental rights and freedoms….

I think one of the mistakes that we are making is in dealing with extremist, religious fundamentalist movements, is falling into the trap of getting into a religious debate. But let us not forget that fundamentalism is not about religion, it is about power.

So, in order not to fall into the trap of trying to defend ourselves on the basis of this or that religious principle, I think we need to very insistently uphold international standards. And again, Madam Manjoo mentioned many such mechanisms that are at our disposal which we can make the best use of. But we need a new vision. We need not only a new vision among women, but a new vision that will bring all like-minded people together to have a common front against extremist movements.

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Fatoumata D. Diarra, Malian lawyer and judge for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Court (ICC) since 2003

Excerpts of remarks at the IWD gathering, "Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism"

February 27, 2016 - Paris

Having read about the conduct of the mullahs' religious dictatorship in Iran, analyzed the institutionalization of misogynous laws based on subjugation, exclusion and humiliation of women, and the suffering inflicted on women in the name of protection of honor and the hijab, I endorse your struggle. In fact this fight is not only legitimate but is a duty of all citizens of the world who love peace and justice. This is the reason why instead of a statement I wish to share some questions with you….

If it is true that human rights are a set of basic rights in our existence as human beings, and that without these rights we cannot fully exercise our human qualities, our intelligence, our talents and our spirituality, then we must conclude that Iranian women are excluded from human group….

In my country as Mali, (95% Muslim country) jihadists, in favor of a rebel war, invaded the north of the country and inflicted the worst abuses on the populations including women and girls. Wearing the hijab was imposed on women and girls. They were forbidden from profit-making activities, were imprisoned under false pretenses, and raped while in detention. Schools were closed and they suffered forcible marriage and gang rapes. The jihadists are multiplying by the day, and terrorist attacks are launched sporadically throughout the territory...

The International Community has always reacted to horrific crimes by creating courts for prosecution and trial of alleged perpetrators of crimes under international law. It is time that the international community would finally wake up to the Iranian tragedy. Indeed if the crimes against humanity are defined as inhumane acts against a civilian population in a criminal plan of systematic or widespread way, we can consider that the acts perpetrated by the militias dedicated to "Promotion of Virtue and the prohibition of vice" as crimes against humanity. The United Nations is challenged to investigate the suffering of Iranian women.

The time has come for the formation of a special court for crimes against women in Iran.

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Ranjana Kumari, Director of the Centre for Social Research, dedicated to empowering women and girls and promoting women's fundamental rights, India

Excerpts of remarks at the IWD gathering, "Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism"

February 27, 2016 - Paris

We have come here to raise our voices, to make it loud and clear that women of the world are not going to tolerate any more any kind of fundamentalism, especially religious fundamentalism, the Islamic fundamentalism.

We are here to say loud and clear that women of the world stand for peace and we stand with our sisters from Iran who are suffering at the hands of the Iranian regime.

We stand with our sisters from Camp Liberty who are being tortured and brutalized at the hands of the regime of Iran.

It is extremely gratifying to look around and see faces that reflect the power to fight for women’s rights. And share this energy of keeping the movement for democratic rights and justice for all. We are here to unite against extremism, fundamentalism and look through the eyes of each other, to experience and understand what the women around the world have been going through…

And it’s time to say no to injustices. Women are not going to tolerate (injustices) anymore…  We refuse to bow down to clamping forces, and we stand together in support of Mrs. Rajavi because she is the one who stands tall before us, with strong, fighting spirit to protect women of Iran from all kinds of cruelty, brutality and injustices….

The need is to support the women who have the courage to fight back the severe discrimination against women, and are leading anti-regime protests at the forefront…

Let us together once again applaud the efforts of our sisters who have kept the flame burning against the regime. We stand with you in solidarity and pledge our support to you on this occasion.

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Ingrid Betancourt, politician and Colombian presidential candidate in 2002

Excerpts of remarks at the IWD gathering, "Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism"

February 27, 2016 - Paris

We are invited to reflect on the place of women in today's world, especially when women are attacked violently by states in the world and in particular by the Iranian state. So the first thought I would share with you is that watching us as women, those here in the podium, those in front, we are women of the 21st century. We are free, we are strong, we are courageous, we have a voice, we have a heart, we are educated, we work, we have families we love, and we are full of women. The ability we have is the fruit of the struggle of many heroes who came before us; heroines known in history as Joan of Arc, as Benazir Bhutto, like Mother Teresa, women like Thatcher, as Angela Merkel, who left a trace in the history of the world.

But also millions of other women who have changed the relationship between men and women through the centuries anonymously. And as we are their heirs, we have rights but we also have obligations. And the first obligation we have is to look at ourselves and each other knowing that we come from all different countries and cultures, and that we all aspire to the same rights. Why do I stress this? Well, because much too often, and it is a taboo in the Western world, we hear that the rights we enjoy as Western women is the product of our culture. As if the lack of rights of women in the world, was a cultural problem. And I really want to emphasize this thought, because if the rights of women is a cultural problem, so Islamic fundamentalism could well be seen as a cultural thing, which we could not oppose. Now we know that women's rights and women's equality are the cornerstone of all freedoms, of all human rights, of all democracies around the world.

So if we do a tribute to all the women in the world who fought for the rights we enjoy today, all those who are here, supported by all men who are here with us … then I think we should pay tribute to the woman who calls us today and who carries the torch in the 21st century; the torch of light in the darkest nights against democracy and against women's rights. And this woman is Maryam Rajavi….

So yes, Maryam Rajavi, you are a heroine to us. And it is not just because you have analyzed the Sharia that we are not even able to read… But because, Mrs. Rajavi you, and that's what is extraordinary, you have created an organization which is the organization that meets and has a model that can actually be interpreted as the alternative for Iran. It is that model which is extraordinary. The ability to have brought women, yes, both women and men, women and Muslim men, who do not deny the fact of being Muslims… I'm here for many years and seen how this organization is built. An organization in which women have a major leadership. I would like to see that in our Western parliaments in which today we, women, fight for a little bit of space, while we believe we have all the rights…

51% of the inhabitants of this planet are women. Well now, that's what Mrs. Rajavi has in her organization. 51% women and many more that are active to provide an opportunity for Iran to look at another alternative. To think as Muslims who want to enter the world of the 21st century and not stay in the medieval caliphate-that offer the mullahs.

It is a revolution. Yes, it is a revolution. A revolution that breaks taboos, our taboos from the West who believe that ultimately if women in Iran cannot be elected, it is a question of culture.

Mrs. Rajavi you destroy, you break our taboos, our prejudices… You show us with your fight with your presence, with your intelligence, with the fact that you have joined the women around you, as it unites us now. You have united Muslim women, Iranians behind you, who come to take part in the Iranian Resistance, daily growing by tens of thousands, are paying the price for resistance. But they are with you, because you are successful, Maryam, to be their voice, to be their eyes, to be their heart. And that's why we - all of us women, political, because we are political ones that are here - we are here today with you, behind you. And we are here because we want you to be successful in your business. We want you to succeed not only in changing Iran, because we all feel the end - all here, men and women - we feel that this appointment we have today is a meeting with history. It is an appointment with this coming century that lies before us, in which we know we can be what we dream to be; that if the woman is a fast player with men in the construction of this new century. And you have the expression of this struggle.

Other women before you have done their share; today it is you. You are the torch of the struggle. And if you win, and if you succeed, the world will change...
Maryam Rajavi's fight is our fight. This is my fight. It is much better to support this alternative that to compromise with the mullahs in a nuclear agreement that we know we will pay for dearly. That's why today, more than ever, we need the success of Maryam Rajavi. We need Maryam to be known worldwide, to be recognized worldwide. That she is supported by the democratic leaders of the world, and in particular, the leaders of Western democracies… It is our commitment today; it is our commitment tomorrow. It's up to us to help Maryam free Iran.

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Linda Chavez, White House Director for Public Liaison (1985), US expert to the UN Human Rights Sub-Commission (1992-1996)

Excerpts of remarks at the IWD gathering, "Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism"

February 27, 2016 - Paris

It says something about a country when one half of the population is deprived of its most basic human rights. Women are deprived of everything that we throughout the world take for granted as our human rights. They are not allowed, as Mrs. Rajavi said, to testify in court. Their word is not to be taken as equal to that of a man. They are not even allowed the most fundamental right of women over the lives of their own children. They are forced to cover themselves from head to toe as if they were the cause of sin…

We also find that women in Iran are prevented from exercising anything like their own rights of self-determination. And that is why it is so inspiring to hear from a woman like Mrs. Rajavi, when she talks about what is the fundamental role of change, and what is the future of Iran. That future will never be determined by the mullahs who rule Iran today…

They are not true believers in Islam. And they want to take their ideology and spread it, not just over their own people, they are expansionists, and wish, through gathering more weapons, through getting access to nuclear weapons, to take that ideology and spread it throughout the world. Not just the Middle-East, not even just on the continent of Africa, but in here, in Europe, and indeed across the globe.

We cannot let that happen. We cannot let this regime, which has persecuted, tortured, imprisoned and killed its own people, to remain in power. And it is up to you and to President-Elect Maryam Rajavi to bring about that change.

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Naghm Al-Ghadri, Vice President of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition forces

Excerpts of remarks at the IWD gathering, "Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism"

February 27, 2016 - Paris

I come from the country's diaspora, home to millions of Syrians, to convey to you a little of what is happening in my country, Syria…

A short while ago I saw a report on the Iranian women who had recounted their own and their friends' stories in the clerical regime's prisons. I said to myself, the mullahs and Assad are from the same school...

Did you know that some (Syrian) girls committed suicide after their release from prison where they were subjected to the worst kinds of torture, rape? Their young minds could not accept what happened to themDr. Rania Abbas is a doctor and an Arab champion in chess. She has been detained since 2013 despite having six children, the youngest of whom was two at the time of arrest…

Our struggle in Syria is for all Syrians, without exception, to enjoy freedom and democracy, the children, women and men. Our struggle to topple the usurper regime, is against oppression and dictatorship, and against anyone who supported it, the Russians and the mullahs' regime, Hezbollah and others.
Let me say this: They can kill and imprison our children, they can kill children in their mothers' wombs, they can kill our dreams and our memoirs, they can destroy our schools but they cannot kill the freedom fighters who will not relent until they topple this criminal regime and persecute its security officials for their crimes.

One day, we will build our home again and all the refugees will return home. They will write the history of the greatest revolution. I stress from this podium that a dictator is not able to confront a nation that has arisen for her rights.

In the end, I once again thank the Iranian Resistance and Mrs. Rajavi for giving me this opportunity to convey a fraction of what is happening in Syria.

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Anissa Boumediene, former First Lady of Algeria, jurist, and Islamologist

Excerpts of remarks at the IWD gathering, "Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism"

February 27, 2016 - Paris

I will simply express my anger for many reasons.

As a scholar of Islam who has studied the Quran in depth, who has studied the Sunnah and the hadiths, I cannot help but be angry when I hear insanities that are claimed in the name of Islam and in the name of the prophet. Let us very briefly consider some examples. And of course, among these examples, there is the Iranian example.

In the Iranian civil code today, in the 20th and the 21st centuries, it is sadistic. It describes the size of the stones with which women must be stoned to death. These stones should not be too small because they would only suffer and not die. They should not be too big either so that the women would be killed at once. They say that they must they suffer. This is the suffering of women. The Quran does not in any way mention or condone such acts. Neither did the prophet. The authentic hadiths, or accounts from the life of the prophet, especially do not say that…

Another thing is about prohibition of women driving a car. But there were no cars at the time of the Prophet! Where does this prohibition come from? It means that men have made up these prohibitions which are not inspired by the Quran, which are not based on the conduct of the prophet. Such things do not exist but are falsely attributed to Islam and the first victims are Muslims who work for a fair Islam….

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Najima Thay Thay, Minister of Education and Youth, Morocco (2002-2004)

Excerpts of remarks at the IWD gathering, "Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism"

February 27, 2016 - Paris

We struggle against all those who use religion as a political tool. The rulers of Iran have deviated Islam’s image and transformed it into a tool to achieve their political objectives. This danger is no longer limited to Iran, and you are not just defending Iranian women, rather you are today the voice of all the suppressed, destitute and tortured women. When we saw the cry of the young Syrian girl, we saw that this was due to the sufferings in Syria. I tell her that the young children in Iran, Palestine and Syria are flames who are now carrying her message.

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Maria Candida Almeida, Deputy Attorney General of the Portuguese Supreme Court

Excerpts of remarks at the IWD gathering, "Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism"

February 27, 2016 - Paris

Here I am in solidarity with you and the people of Iran sharing the ideals of progress, freedom and equality for all human beings…

As a Deputy Attorney General, a strong defender of the universal principles of equality, freedom and respect for human dignity enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the humiliation and subjugation of women and their exclusion from social and political life do not make sense to me especially as they are institutionalized in misogynistic laws, authorizing the subordination of half or more than half the population of a country or, in fact, the world. It is actually in your country that over 70% of university students are women but at the same time, they are forbidden to study in 66 different fields….

What brings me here, now and forever, is to give you my humble support and tell you to keep on working for peace and equality, fighting with the voice of reason for the elimination of discrimination and misogynous laws…

With a confidence that is reinforced whenever I look back at the long and difficult path, but filled and enlightened with great successes and victories, followed by all who fight discrimination and social and political misogyny sustained by laws that violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, I would like to say that my heart, my thoughts and my will are with you. And I wish that in the near future, your determination and courage will prevail, because you fight for peace, liberty and equality for all…

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Beatriz Becerra Basterrechea, Member of the European Parliament from Spain

Excerpts of remarks at the IWD gathering, "Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism"

February 27, 2016 - Paris

 The human rights situation in Iran has deteriorated over the past couple of years. Despite all propaganda when Rouhani took office in the summer of 2013, there has been no improvement. On the contrary, human rights conditions, including the situation of women, have deteriorated. More people have been executed, many in public, to terrorize the people. Women in Iran are the main targets of the mullahs’ suppressive measures and are denied their most fundamental rights. It is in Iran that discrimination against women has been legalized and institutionalized, while in many countries, women’s rights are being violated, while in many Muslim countries under the so-called sharia law, women are being suppressed. However, Iran is unique, since this suppression has been embedded in the constitution, as administrative laws and everything has been institutionalized….

Fundamentalism is not only the enemy of Muslim women, but of all women, and therefore, of all humanity. It is a global and comprehensive threat to peace and security open and unconcealed, growing on oppression, terror and fear. The universal history of women’s struggles for freedom and equality is fundamentalism’s greatest enemy. That is why with no doubt and full intentions, women are the first victims of its destruction and its main target. …

Maryam Rajavi has been the first to call for the formation of a united front against Islamic fundamentalists. She has been the Muslim woman declaring that Islam supports absolute gender equality in every respect, from marriage and inheritance laws to equal pay, and most importantly, equal participation in political leadership, and the positions in economic sphere. She as a Muslim leader rejects the mullahs’ so-called sharia law.

I am honored to be part of this force for change, Maryam. And proud to announce here as a contribution to this goal, that I will launch next week a fully comprehensive and integrated European program on the role of women in the fight against radicalization. Mrs. Rajavi is the vanguard of the fight against Islamic fundamentalism. Mrs. Rajavi incarnates the possibility of a Muslim political leadership based on rule of law, equality, democracy and freedom. And this is the best and only way to end extremism and fundamentalism.

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Christine Ockrent, renowned Television anchor, journalist and writer

Excerpts of remarks at the IWD gathering, "Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism"

February 27, 2016 - Paris

On Iran, Mrs. Rajavi and others here have explained and recounted with far greater detail than we could possibly have in Paris about the reality of the conditions facing women in Iran. And I would like to urge you to follow the wonderful message of this great yet very small woman who is called Françoise Héritier and who just told us in her recorded message these key words, which I believe are for all women and in particular for oppressed women wherever they may be: We must act, and that is what has been said by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi. We must dare to challenge the regimes and we must also dream. We must take the time to dream, because it is through dreams that we find the force, encouragement and determination to take action.

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Azza Heikal, Advisor to the President of Egypt and Dean of the University of Alexandria, Cairo

Excerpts of remarks at the IWD gathering, "Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism"

February 27, 2016 - Paris

Egyptian women who fought less than three years in revolutions and are still dreaming of education, political participation, undertaking leadership and executive political decision-making positions are always in solidarity with the women of the Arab world and the women of Iran who face numerous problems and the religious authority prevents them living a normal life based on international conventions whereas in the Quran men and women have always been addressed as equal….

Education is the first priority for women because it illuminates the mind and conscience of women and thereby women are able to properly distinguish between fanaticism and extremism on the one hand and responsibility and freedom on the other ... It is through education and culture, that Egyptian women can support women in the Arab world against exploitation by religion….

Freedom of thought and education give women wings to fly and struggle for more freedom and allows women to work shoulder by shoulder with men....

The women of Egypt stand with the women of the world to overcome extremism and fanaticism.

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Stefania Pezzopane, Italian Sentor

Excerpts of remarks at the IWD gathering, "Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism"

February 27, 2016 - Paris

One of the factors of inequality and division is the ideology behind Islamic fundamentalism which is creating a wave of gender apartheid in society and is the enemy of humanity, especially of women. Fundamentalism degrades everyone; it violates fundamental rights, in particular the rights of women; and it hides itself behind the cloak of Islam. In order to preserve its rule, it terrorizes the people and respects no boundaries. It is a global threat. No religion supports execution, torture, rape and suppression. The suffering of women in Iran is due to the roots of this ideology and is enshrined in the misogynistic nature of the dictatorship ruling Iran.

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Zinat Mirhashemi, member of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, Central Committee member of the Cherik-hay-e Fadaii Khalq Organization of Iran

Excerpts of remarks at the IWD gathering, "Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism"

February 27, 2016 - Paris

I pay my respect to the more than 1000 combatant members of the PMOI in Camp Liberty prison and the aware, active and resistant women in the Islamic Republic’s prisons and dungeons, and I shake their hands from afar and tell them that we will not allow the rights of you women become victim of blood trade.

I also use the opportunity to express my regret at the trips by European and American female officials who take the messages of their governments and companies as gifts to the regime and who are willing to wear a compulsory veil.

The actions of such women, which is tantamount to accepting forced veiling, aids Islamic fundamentalists in their suppression of women in Iran. Also when European female officials wear the compulsory veil in their trips to Iran, this strengthens the regime’s misogynistic laws in my country, since the Iranian regime talks of cultural conditions in order to justify the violation of the rights of women and considering them as 2nd class in its constitution, and it has refused to sign the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and even worse, it does not accept gender equality or the fact that women’s rights are also human rights.

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Drita Avdyli, Former Deputy Minister and current Chairwoman of National Chamber of Mediation, Albania

Excerpts of remarks at the IWD gathering, "Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism"

February 27, 2016 - Paris

I am here today to express my solidarity with all women and especially with the women of Iran who are fighting with one of the worst dictatorships in the world which carries out so many crimes under the name of religion.

I was one of the first people to greet your sisters and brothers who came from the terrible inhuman conditions of Camp Liberty to Albania and today, I am happy to say that they have contributed a lot in their thoughts and way of life to our society.

I am proud that my country and my people have opened their hearts to your people and I hope that one day, all the sufferings of your people will come to an end as it did in my country.

I strongly support Mrs. Rajavi who as a Muslim woman courageously defends the rights of women everywhere in the world where these rights are trampled upon particularly under the name of Islam. I believe that her thinking and platform for women is the best solution to all the problems which have been created by fundamentalists and religious extremists.

I am here to say that I am with you until Iran is freed and I wish success for Mrs. Rajavi, and for all the Iranian women particularly women in the Resistance in their struggle against the current misogynous dictatorship.

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Diana Culi, Albanian writer, journalist and politician, former representative of Albania in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

Excerpts of remarks at the IWD gathering, "Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism"

February 27, 2016 - Paris 

I come from Albania and I am happy to bring to you the greetings and the solidarity of Albanian women. I am really happy to be here, together with you, wonderful women that fight for freedom, equality, human rights and tolerance in your country and, doing this you are an example for all the peoples of the world.

I have passed half of my life under a harsh dictatorship. In the middle of a democratic Europe, an ideological fundamentalism found its way….

I am convinced that wherever oppression against women is harder, the stronger they become, because women know that if we only say that we are victims and if we do not become conscious that there is always a way to freedom, this is the real danger. Our belief in the future is our guarantee to victory....

Women have a common cause and a common issue all over the world – the discrimination, the oppression that have no need to learn languages and other cultures to understand each other. For that, women can be the force who can win on fundamentalisms of all sorts and create a better future.

Let’s be together, for equality, for freedom, for human rights, for the future of all the other generations! These concepts have no borders! They are the new world of humanity. Let’s fight for them!

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Sevim Arbana, an activist of the democratic movement in Albania and the founder of the organization Useful to Albanian Women (UAW)

Excerpts of remarks at the IWD gathering, "Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism"

February 27, 2016 - Paris

Dear Mrs. Rajavi,

Dear 1000 women of Camp Liberty,

You are my heroes. You are heroes of the 21st century. You are heroes because you are women. And do you know what is the 21st century? It’s the century of women….

The visit of the mullahs’ (president) weeks ago to Europe, shaking hands with leaders of Europe showed that human rights and democracy in Europe are false, as well.

So, our obligation, my obligation as a UN peace worker in the world, a human rights activist in Albania, is to fight and show what the true human rights are in the world…

No one has killed so many women and children as the mullahs did last year, and many years before, not only in Camp Liberty but also wherever people think differently from the mullahs.

So, this is the reason I so much support and believe in this movement and the women of NCRI, and Madam Rajavi is a hero of the 21st century…

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Fatiha Bakkali, Member of the Moroccan House of Representatives

Excerpts of remarks at the IWD gathering, "Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism"

February 27, 2016 - Paris

We urge the European Union and international organizations to assist our brothers and sisters in Camp Liberty [in Iraq] and to stand alongside our sister Maryam Rajavi. She has a dream and represents a suffering people and society as well as women all over the world, including the women of Tunisia, Libya, Syria and Yemen. In all these countries people longed for democracy, but they are right now suffering from instability.

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Margarita Duran Vadell, Former Spanish Senator

Excerpts of remarks at the IWD gathering, "Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism"

February 27, 2016 - Paris

We are proud to be here to participate in this gathering, to discuss one of the most serious challenge the world is facing just now: Islamic fundamentalism.

But why is it important to discuss this question facing the International Women’s Day? The answer is truly simple. The misogyny is the central piece of the concept of fundamentalism….

At this meeting we can hear the voice of western women, and also the voice from women from the east and Africa. The voices of our sisters from Iraq, from Syria, from Iran, from Morocco, from Tunisia, from Egypt. It is essential to hear all voices to address this challenge. But this gathering would not be possible without the leadership of the brave women of the Iranian Resistance. They know too exactly what fundamentalism means. They know too well what it means to live in a country where the constitution and the civil law are clearly misogynistic. A constitution that served as inspiration for fundamentalism movements that now scares Europe and the Middle East.

The Iranian regime has been the role model for all different branches of Islamic fundamentalism, be it Shiite or Sunnite.…

ISIS, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab are good pupils of the Iranian regime. So, last year we learned about shocking crimes towards Yazidi and Christian women. Such crimes have been committed systematically in Iran over the past three decades against followers of the religion, mostly against Muslim women who refused to submit to the rule of the mullahs...

So today, I want to raise a question here. Is it possible to denounce the excesses of Islamic fundamentalism against women at the same time to be complacent with the Iranian regime? I think it’s impossible.

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Kirsty Brimelow, Criminal, International & Human Rights law barrister – UK

Excerpts of remarks at the IWD gathering, "Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism"

February 27, 2016 - Paris

The Bar Human Rights Committee works and stands with Iran, and with Camp Liberty in relation to the violations and the atrocities that are committed. And we have written statements of concern, held events, and lobby as well alongside other human rights organizations for Iran.

President Rouhani said that the government will thrive so that 50% of society in Iran does not remain unemployed, isolated. That’s what he said in April 2015. Astonishing, because Iran has continued to pass repressive legislation in relation to women. And part of his plan to promote virtue and prevent vice has resulted in very repressive legislation, which is contrary to international law. So in practice, what is happening in Iran is that there is a promotion of inequality for women, which is contrary to the protections and the rights under international law. So, there is no doubt there….

Camp Liberty. This is where the UN really has to do something, and rather than simply putting forward words. The UN needs to recognize Camp Liberty as a refugee camp. At present, it is like a detention center. They need to ensure that there are protections for those living within the camp. It’s not a big step for the UN because the UN Human Rights Council has already said that it considers the refugees there to be persons of concern. So legally, it’s only a small step.

The UK and other countries which are part of the National Security Council need to hold Iraq to account when these atrocities occur and to stop them from occurring again. And again, silence was deafening in relation to those recent murders that occurred at the end of last year.

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Linda Lee, Lawyer, Former President of the Law Society, United Kingdom

Excerpts of remarks at the IWD gathering, "Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism"

February 27, 2016 - Paris

We called for Camp Liberty to be recognized as a refugee camp, implementing the protection of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. We must end the siege and the deadly attacks, and secure the protection and well-being of all the residents. The president referred to the Declaration 587 of January 28, 2015, signed by many members of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe, which called on the United Nations to recognize Camp Liberty as a refugee camp. How can the international community pretend to rely on the Iraqi authorities to provide protection for the refugees in Camp Liberty?

Our hearts are with our sisters in Camp Liberty. You face unimaginable cruelty at the arms of your oppressors, but you are brave, you are strong and you never, never submit. Do not feel you are alone. Your sisters around the world are with you. We will not fail you. We ask all of you to show your love and solidarity to your sisters in Camp Liberty.

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Sara Chandler, President of the Human Rights Commission of the Federation of European Bar Associations, UK

Excerpts of remarks at the IWD gathering, "Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism"

February 27, 2016 - Paris

Thank you for inviting The Law Society of England and Wales to be part of this pledge for parity, in respect of International Women’s Day and for the rights of Women in Iran.

I am a lucky woman thanks to the location of my birth. And I feel strongly for the girls and women of Iran who live under a regime which denies them equality and human rights. We should all be protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And yet for some, the Universal Declaration is not their protector. Their lives are untouched by the human rights we should all enjoy. The United Nations does try to monitor human rights through its committees as Rachida and Yakin have told us. Last week, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child stated: “Iran continues to execute children and youth who committed a crime under 18 years of age, in violation of international standards.”

The Committee also said: “Iran’s regime must reform its laws that allows girls as young as nine to be executed for crimes, or forced into marriages, with much older husbands.” The United Nations Committee is seriously concerned about the reports of increasing numbers of girls at the age of 10 years old, or younger who are subjected to forced marriages to much older men. Girls and women suffer discrimination in the family, in the criminal justice system, in property rights and elsewhere. While the legal obligations for girls to be subject to male guardianship is incompatible with Tehran’s international legal obligations. It is a shame for and a crime against humanity that children and young persons under the age of 18 are being executed by the Iranian state.

For us in the Human Rights Committee and The Law Society, the security and rights of the brave and heroic refugees, formerly in Ashraf, and now in Camp Liberty have been a major concern.

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Safoura Sadidi, member of the PMOI Central Council

Excerpts of remarks at the IWD gathering, "Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism"

February 27, 2016 - Paris

I express my greetings to all of you, to the women across the globe, and especially the women and girls in my country, Iran, suffering under the mullahs’ rule where International Women’s Day, March 8th, has been eliminated from the calendars.

Moments ago you witnessed the words of my father, who lost his life in the struggle against the religious dictatorship ruling Iran. At the time I was 6 years old but now as I look back it seems as if he was sketching my future with his words. He used to say:

“Safoura, in life we are like a small stream attempting to reach a river, and eventually the ocean.”

And so, I decided to take this path by joining the resistance and becoming a drop in this sea on the path towards freedom….

What caught my eye as I joined the resistance was a new phenomenon, the relationship between individuals in the resistance. Growing up in European democracy and equality weren’t new terms for me, but what I was witnessing was democracy and emancipation at a different level. The most fascinating factor; it wasn’t a thesis or a vision, I was seeing it in practice.

All of a sudden I was among people who had devoted everything in their lives for the freedom of their people. They wanted nothing for themselves, instead were always the first to make a sacrifice for the other.

They never give up or give in! It is only through teamwork and unity that they can stride forward towards their common goal.

I have seen the flourishing of new ideals; women, who have gained abundant experience in the daily fight against the mullahs’ tyranny but surpass it all to make way for the new generation to enter the scene; allowing them to come and lead in this path, while teaching them and holding their hands every step of the way to make sure they succeed in their new responsibilities.

They are excellent listeners, and are very open to new ideas and creativity. Among them, I witness what a free, democratic Iran, with equality for all, will look like, on daily basis.

The Iranian regime tries to diminish the vanguard role of women and girls in the struggle for freedom through suppression and persecution.

However, we stand united, and we have sworn to overthrow Godfather of ISIS, and we will most definitely succeed.

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Naghme Rajabi

Remarks at the IWD gathering, "Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism"

February 27, 2016 - Paris

My name is Naghmeh Rajabi and I currently live and work in London. I'm truly honoured to be here today, amongst so many distinguished women and those who endeavor for a pledge for parity.

Like thousands of Iranian families who have lost loved ones in the hands of the Iranian regime, two of my aunts have also been murdered. Afsaneh Rajabi, executed at the young age of only 22 and Zahra Rajabi who was assassinated by the Iranian agents on February 20, 1996 while helping the Iranian refugees in Turkey.

I bet the Iranian regime didn't think that one day like many other Iranian families, the next generation of these two wonderful women, would be inspired to stand up and speak about their sacrifice and how they gave their lives for their principles and beliefs in democracy and women’s rights.

Although I was quite young when my family and I were forced to escape our beloved country, I have clear memories of the restrictions imposed on Iranian girls and women under the name of Islam. Today, I can see that the situation has become much worse. Iran is still a country where being a woman means you are vulnerable to being raped and getting executed for defending yourself against a rapist; to being arrested or even worse, becoming the victim of acid attacks for daring to speak your mind or wearing the type of clothes you like.

However, despite all the horrific things that are threatening the girls and women of my country on a daily basis, I remain optimistic and hopeful because I consider myself a small member of this huge family, led by a woman, a true and worthy leader who cares about the pains and suffering of not only the Iranian women, but I'm sure, all women across the globe who are mistreated, limited, suppressed and discriminated against, simply for being a woman.

I would like to use this opportunity to say how privileged and grateful I am to be part of this movement which has taught me to look beyond myself.

I would like to finish by saying that this cause that we are fighting for, is a global cause and it requires us all to be united and to spread the word of “Pledge for Parity and women united against Islamic fundamentalism” as loud as possible.

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Messages to the conference:

Nancy Pelosy, Democratic Leader, US House of Representatives

Excerpts of message to the IWD gathering, "Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism"

February 27, 2016 - Paris

It is an honor to extend greetings to those joined here for the 2016 Paris Rally for women's rights in Iran.

How wonderful to see thousands of inspiring women gather to celebrate International Women's Day! Thank you for your commitment to the empowerment of women of all backgrounds. Your continued advocacy for the human rights, equality, freedom, and justice that all people deserve is appreciated. From advocating for the education of girls and young women to encouraging freedom of expression, to challenging the Iranian regime to protect all citizens, regardless of their gender, you are integral to our efforts to achieve the equality and opportunities all women deserve.

Thank you for your dedication to the advancement of women in Iran.


Baroness Betty Boothroyd, Former Speaker of the House of Commons, UK

Excerpts of message to the IWD gathering, "Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism"

February 27, 2016 - Paris

On the eve of International Women’s Day, at the Women’s conference in Paris on February 27th, I applaud Mrs. Maryam Rajavi and the thousands women in Camp Liberty for leading the struggle against the theocratic regime in Iran. You people give hope and voice to millions of women in Iran who are being discriminated against on a daily basis. I also commend you as Muslim women for not staying silent as the real regime ruling Iran hijacked your religion to justify exporting terrorism abroad as well as systematic oppression of women...

As Iran’s unacceptable behavior continues, it is time now for the international community and leaders of the democratic nations to support your cause by recognizing Mrs. Rajavi’s 10-point plan for the future of Iran and to stand with you and millions of Iranian women who endeavor to establish these democratic values for your country. I will continue to support you and to call upon my government to do so. Your success, you know, in being democratic change will not only set Iran on a democratic path, but it will also rid the world of the ominous threat of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism that is being fostered by the Tehran regime.

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Françoise Héritier, prominent French anthropologist and writer

Excerpts of message to the IWD gathering, "Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism"

February 27, 2016 - Paris

What I think is simple. It is legitimate for women to have the same status and the same value as men. But we cannot achieve this without fighting for it. That’s why education is extremely important. But equally the women must reach the positions of power and then everything would be possible.

And it is in this sense that I personally have been very much moved by the work done by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi because I am very much aware of the quality of her struggle and the sincerity of her efforts for secularism and the separation of church and state but also of her efforts for women. I feel this is an essential point.

Evidently this is a particular example. She has chosen to give responsibilities, in the exercise of power, to women, even though that traditionally women had lesser roles in comparison to men.


Judy Chu, Member of Congress, United States

Excerpts of message to the IWD gathering, "Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism"

February 27, 2016 - Paris

I would also like to thank you for all that you do to stand up for the rights of women around the world – and especially in Iran where misogyny is institutionalized by a radical regime with a history of human rights abuses.

Oppressing women, the way Iran’s radical leaders do, prevents us all from reaching our full potential and even encourages violence…

I condemn this mistreatment of women in Iran and stand up with the hundreds of women in Camp Liberty in Iraq who are risking their lives to speak out and fight against this abusive system.

I am so appreciative of your advocacy this International Women’s Day and every day.


Loretta Sanchez, Member of US Congress

Excerpts of message to the IWD gathering, "Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism"

February 27, 2016 - Paris

As we celebrate International Women's Day, it is my honor to commend all of you for gathering here today for such an important mission. The plight of women in Iran cannot continue to be ignored and much work must continue to be done by all of us and the international community.

The theocratic regime in Tehran claims that it wishes to be included in the international community. But this simply cannot be the case while it continues to treat its women as second class citizens. The tolerance of misogyny and the common acts of violence and repression perpetrated against women are an affront to international human rights. Women continue to play a vital role in Iranian society and it is a travesty that their own religion, Islam, is distorted and used against them by the ruling regime in order to suppress their rights….

A longstanding issue that still exists today is the status of Iranian women in exile in Camp Liberty, Iraq. These women are constantly in grave danger from Iraqi military forces and militias supplied and influenced by the Iranian regime's IRGC. The Iraqi government has done little as this community is attacked and threatened with destruction.

The United Nations and international community at large need to step up their commitment to human rights and ensure that this very vulnerable group is protected and that relocation efforts are immediately sped up...

The women of Iran are not alone and they will not be abandoned. I will continue to urge my colleagues in the U.S. Congress to join me in support of measures that condemn oppressive Iranian actions that violate human rights. Our resolve cannot and shall not be shaken.


A group of musicians from Albania, Mmes. Marjan and Gisoo Shakeri, renowned singers and members of the Iranian Resistance, as well as young Iranian singer, Ms. Ayda, performed in the Paris gathering.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1qP9mHtMCU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6eh0G-GgYI

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