Women can and must change the world according to the ideal of equality
Maryam Rajavi’s message on March 8, International Women’s Day
March 8 is International Women’s Day. We celebrate this day by expressing admiration for my dear sisters across Iran and all over the world. We salute those who have made history for women’s struggle for equality and liberation through their suffering and their ultimate sacrifices.
I salute the Mojahed and struggling women who conquered torture chambers and execution fields, and those who actively participated in uprisings and protests leading to the kneeling of the reactionary religious tyranny.
And, hail to women who have blazed the trail through their sacrifices and assumption of their responsibilities.
There is a proud history of these women leading the way and the future is shining and bright thanks to their existence.
Iranian women are proud to have struggled against forty years of despicable religious tyranny, since day one until now. They have produced a glorious resistance movement.
It is thanks to this struggle and perseverance that Women’s Day for Iranian women does not only fall on March 8th but is actually marked as every single day of the calendar.
March 8th is not only a day to express resentment and protest against inequality and gender discrimination. It is also a day to revere women who have risen up against injustice, women who have made possible things that seemed impossible on the path toward attaining freedom and equality.
Today, women are present in the ranks of those engaged in protests and uprisings by students, teachers, workers, farmers and retirees. Their struggle will continue until this regime is uprooted.
In the midst of fear and silence, it is women who chant “death to Khamenei” in the face of the regime’s agents. They lead workers’ protests and become the voice of teachers and retirees. They inspire youth to stand up against the regime’s agents.
They persevere in prisons with extraordinary courage, alongside their sisters. And, in the ranks of freedom fighters, they have established Units of Resistance.
Such struggle and resistance is in response to a misogynist regime that has established its rule based on discrimination and injustices against women. Its identity has been shaped through suppression and humiliation of women.
Khamenei and his regime have no other solution in the face of the women’s struggle and their growing protests, except to show their blood-stained daggers and teeth. Khamenei wants to appoint one of the most infamous perpetrators of the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in 1988 as the head of the regime’s judiciary. Many of the 30,000 victims were women.
Yet the appointment of this despised henchman cannot overcome the lack of morale and the weakness of the entire regime in the face of the Iranian people’s protest movement.
Over the past year, once again, thousands of women were arrested across Iran under the pretext of “mal-veiling” and were harassed and intimidated.
At the same time, the number of unemployed women has increased dramatically. The unemployment rate among educated women has reached 78%. The unemployment rate among women under the age of 30 stands at 86%. This results from the regime’s misogynist policies. The regime’s supreme leader shamelessly claims that “employment is not a main issue when it comes to women.”
The tragedy regarding the marriage of girls under 18 years of age has created an appalling situation for women. The number of female drug addicts continues to rise year after year. 50% of female prisoners between 20 to 34 years of age are in prison due to drug related charges. There are at least 3,000 homeless women in the capital alone and the enormous number of women victimized by prostitution and poverty is truly catastrophic.
The clerical regime is the arch nemesis of women and the primary obstacle against freedom and equality. Therefore, as a first step, any struggle and movement for freedom and equality goes through the overthrow of the religious tyranny.
Therefore, the first approach to obtaining equality is establishing an effective presence in the struggle to obtain freedom for our people and our country. The main force to defeat the ruling religious dictatorship are the Iranian women, who have borne the brunt of the injustices and have the highest degree of motivation to overthrow the regime.
The second approach that will bring about victory for women’s struggle is solidarity and collective action. This is the key for progress and it will contribute to the flourishing of ingenuity. It will also multiply capabilities while marginalizing fears and deficiencies. Therefore, every time in the face of obstacles and barriers, we must say that we will start once again hand-in-hand. Every woman’s talents and potentials can be realized to the highest extent only through solidarity with her sisters. When individual action evolves into collective action, facing barriers becomes easier. So, each one of us can advance ahead and be effective to the extent that we avoid abandoning our sisters. We need to have more women in our ranks.
These are the types of arrangements and relations that, especially in the current circumstances, the Mojahed women of Iran have taken to greater heights.
The third approach is to change beliefs and rebel against habits and imposed constraints.
We have to struggle for not only what is possible, but what must be. And on this path, shifting the mindset and dislodging of women’s own beliefs is a significant and extremely imperative step.
Rising up, searching for new values and discovering the potentials of the self and others in a collective effort and struggle supplies the roadmap for the struggle for freedom and equality.
In the struggle against gender discrimination and while vindicating the assumption of responsibility and demonstrating the capabilities of Iranian women, female Mojaheds in the Iranian Resistance have successfully overcome many challenges and traversed a long path. They have learned and proven that women as a collective, joined together, have extraordinary abilities.
Women in the Iranian Resistance have blazed the trail in this regard. They see their success and advancement as being dependent on the advancement of the collective. Their efforts are a way for the advancement and progress of their other sisters.
They are flag bearers for values such as self-sacrifice to save their enchained people and also for placing priority on their sisters’ collective progress versus individual advancement.
We will not forget that during the massacre at Camp Ashraf, under a barrage of bullets, Jila Tolou became a shield and placed her body in front of that of her sister, Zohreh.
We will not forget the Mojahed and activist women that are today persevering and retaining their collective morale in the clerical regime’s prisons in order to continue the resistance.
And we will not forget the Mojahed women who joined together in the face of attacks by armed-to-the-teeth mercenaries and prevented arrests or harm to their sisters and brothers.
In the context of an enormous struggle, they have demonstrated that the path toward the liberation and freedom of Iranian men also goes through women’s equality and leadership.
Women have not been born to submit to intimidation, injustice and exploitation. They can and they must change the world in accordance with the ideal of equality.
My daughters and sisters across Iran,
It is time to organize. Turn your pains, suffering, tears, and yearning into a force of struggle and progress. The future will be shaped in your hands and in your units of resistance and resistance councils.
Every day, think about political prisoners and all those who have been arrested during uprisings, and lend them your support.
Resist the regime’s operations to impose compulsory veiling. Inspire people to protest against the regime’s cruel morality police. Support children street vendors and especially women street vendors. Organize protest movements in the face of the regime’s attacks against them. And, actively participate at every location where the flames of resistance and protests are burning.
Stand up to the mullahs, who promote lack of trust, hopelessness, hostility and divisiveness in society in a coordinated and organized manner. They want to tell the Iranian people that nothing works, nothing matters, the situation will become worse, and so we must submit and adapt to the status quo. It is up to you, brave and aware sisters, to defeat this evil policy. It is up to you to rebel against the culture of surrender and it is up to you to cultivate solidarity, compassion, friendship and trust among our people.
The Iranian Resistance, which has devoted a decisive portion of its struggle to attain gender equality, strongly advocates for the elimination of all factors that contribute to the impoverishment of women and prevent their free choices in tomorrow’s free Iran.
Women from any ethnicity, religion or social class, regardless of their age or place of residence, must enjoy equal rights with men in all economic, social and political arenas.
Women are free to choose their place of residence, their occupation, and education. They have a right to freely choose their spouse, to freely travel, to exit the country, to divorce, and to have custody over their children.
Belief in a certain faith, religion or persuasion must not lead to humiliation of any woman or prevention of their access to employment opportunities, educational opportunities or seeking justice.
Women should be able to enjoy protection by the law equal to men.
Women should enjoy equal rights with men when it comes to seeking justice. Women must have freedom of choice for selecting their attire. The compulsory veiling law must be abolished; and it will be abolished.
Women must particularly have the right to equal participation in the society’s political leadership.
Women must enjoy equal rights with men in receiving inheritance and engaging in contracts and management of financial assets.
When it comes to employment, women must have equal opportunities with men and they must receive equal pay and benefits for equal work.
Polygamy must be banned and marriage below the legal age will not be permitted.
And, women must enjoy equal rights to have and retain all fundamental human rights and freedoms.
These ideals will be realized thanks to the iron will of the Iranian people, the Iranian Resistance and Iran’s arisen women. Bolstering this bright future is a glorious history of Iranian women’s struggle.
The Iranian society will not forget how women like Fatemeh Amini or Marzieh Eskoui paved the way for the anti-monarchic revolution through their determination and sacrifice.
Look at Ashraf Rajavi whose burning flame of sacrifice in the struggle against two dictatorships continues to guide the way for Iranian women. Look at the tens of thousands of Iranian women who have been tortured or martyred in the struggle against Khomeini and Khamenei. They are the source of pride for the entire world.
Look at Tahereh Tolou with a dagger in her heart hanging from the cliff at Charzebar. She continues to be the flag that will be forever raised for women’s struggle.
And, look at Neda Aqa Soltan, the daughter of Iran’s uprisings, and Shirin Alam Houli, the blossoming flower of the Iranian Kurdish people’s resistance, and Saba, who said we will stand until the end, and Zohreh and Giti whose perseverance with empty hands attained new heights for Ashraf.
What does this shining history, filled with sacrifices and courage, tell us today?
It tells us that this dark chapter is coming to an end thanks to the little hands of young school girls, the determination of suppressed and oppressed women of Iran, and the will of the arisen women and female leaders.
Undoubtedly, a bright and shining future awaits Iran’s women and people.
May you be triumphant.