Over 30 outstanding women delegates took to the stage this Saturday at the Pledge for Parity:Women United Against Islamic Fundamentalism conference at the ‘Espace Grande Arche’ hall in La Défense, Paris,
one of the first conferences to take place in the city in the build up to International Women’s Day on March 8th. The conference brought together key personalities in the international women’s rights movement, led by the keynote speaker and President-elect of the Iranian Resistance,Maryam Rajavi.
Rajavi, having taken her seat on stage amongst other luminaries, was praised by the first speaker, Ranjana Kumari, the Director of the Centre for Social Research in India and a prominent politician. Kumari commended Rajavi’s strengths in standing up for women’s rights. After the initial speech from Kumari, Rajavi took to the stage to deliver a heartfelt speech condemning Khameini’s persecution of women; from his permittal of child marriage to his numerous executions of women.
She paid homage to her ‘sisters who were slain in recent years’, and covered topics from election fraud to institutionalized violence under the Iranian regime and the mullahs, and how Khameini permits the slavery of women through polygamy and lack of voting rights, how he values the testimony of one man as to be worth more than the testimony of two women. She then notes how fundamentalist groups hardly differ in their ideology; whether Daesh, Taliban or Boko Haram, the effect on women is the same. She ended by calling on women to aim for an end to compulsory veils, religion and government.
Special guest Linda Chavez gave a damning speech on Irans ‘so-called’ recent elections, which were denied to women voters, emphasising how women’s liberation in Iran is impossible under the current regime, and decrying the situation in a country where fifty percent of the population is ineligible to vote.
German politician Rita Sussmuth praised the strength and motivation of the people in the room, noting that when people stay silent over human rights abuses, it is as bad as committing the abuses themselves. She pressed that women are essential components in the fight for liberation, and that they should be included at the heart of the fight.
Rama Yade, French Former Secretary of State for Human Rights, spoke on the systematic social inequality that affects women and girls from a young age in Iran. From being denied the right to study to relying on their husbands for permission to do the simplest tasks, Yade emphasised the work and bravery of women working for liberation under a regime that is against them from the moment they are born.
Ingrid Betancourt, Colombian politician and presidential candidate, expanded on Yade’s speech by calling for all women and men, from whatever their backgrounds, to fight for universal human rights, saying that the fight of Iranian women is the fight of all women, no matter where they are from. She says that it is each woman’s duty to fight, no matter their cultural background.
With Nagham Ghadri, the Vice president of the Syrian National Coalition, the theme shifted slightly towards Syria, as she noted the similarities in the experiences of Syrian and Iranian women; the abuse they suffer at the hands of men, and how they experience an extra layer of systematic oppression based on their gender.
Sentiments echoed by subsequent speakers such as Anissa Boumediene (lawyer and specialist of Islam, former first lady of Algeria) and Najima Thay Thay (former Moroccan Minister of Education and Youth) was that of the importance of education- both in educating women and in allowing people to understand the exploitation of their religion in the name of fundamentalism.
Former UN rapporteur Rashida Manjoo decried the limits placed on the United Nations by economic and political factors, conceding that the lack of UN action means that violations of human rights are allowed to continue.
Saturday, February 27, 2016 14:37