Rita Süssmuth, former Speaker of the German Bundestag
Remarks at IWD conference on "Women Force for Change, Iran Uprising and Women's Role"
Paris – February 17, 2018
My dear friends, sisters, and all the men who are lucky to learn that we can’t continue to do things the way we did for a long time.
And I’m very glad to be with you. On the one hand, we were astonished and glad, that this new uprising, this new revolution took place. On the other hand, we saw how difficult it is to be full of courage, to go there (join the protests) and not stand aside.
As we heard from Mrs. Rajavi, don’t be silent when you have to cry out. Do it together, that’s a new perspective of solidarity. It starts with us and the many of us who will follow.
And what happened in Iran shows that so many people who died over the years or were tortured, are now coming back, because they didn’t give up. That’s my understanding as a human being with a political vision. Don’t give up. Because when we give up, there is no longer any hope.
So, be grateful to all the protesting women and men who demand freedom, individual freedoms, and freedom of thought, expression, and freedom of choosing their lifestyle.
There should be no compulsion on how we cover ourselves. That’s a personal decision and we find it neither in the Quran nor in any other religion.
Now women stand up and say that this should be our personal decision and nothing to be forced from outside.
Now we are in 2018, when we see that women’s role is imperative. Men can’t do it alone. After so many wars, after so many refugees, after the deaths of so many women, children, and soldiers, (we see that) men give up. And we see women who do not give up and continue to fight despair.
And I’m very glad we are here together with Mrs. Rajavi. It’s not the 8 of March but it will come in a few days.
First of all, I would like to tell you in the absence of a guide, we get lost. And I hope that today, female guides are different from male guides. As long as we believe that every conflict must be solved by a new war, by new torture, by new suppression, we will not be successful. This is continuing the old way, not the new way.
Personal freedoms are not meant to exert further control on people. This problem is not only in one system, but in a lot of systems where people believe that they should not trust anyone but themselves.
But we need to trust human beings. We need to trust their capability to change the world. And what we learned these days from what happened in Iran is that they didn’t give up.
And we need guidance.
Of course, all of us start with a certain energy of ourselves, but we can’t do it alone. Nobody can do it alone. The situation gets more difficult when people believe that they can do it alone.
Looking at the disasters of this year in the world, we nevertheless come up with new hope. We are inspired by people coming together, sticking together and bringing about the protests so loudly and so clearly, that all of us can hear them.
There’s always criticism that women are unable to govern the world; women are unable to be really creative; they are not representatives of peace…
But we look at ourselves and we find out that we can make changes. Today, as we have gathered together with women and men from all over the world who chose there is a common need to work together for more peace, for more freedom, for more trust in human capability…
But my opinion and my conviction is that, together are very, very strong and don’t dare to say the opposite, because we have power! We have competence and creativity, not for killing but for saving lives. So that the lost dignity of human beings is restored.
We have to understand that we need change very soon, not only in Iran but all over the world. If not, we are going to get lost in our world. We are destroying our planet by not respecting the nature.
And as a European woman, as a German woman, I hope that we develop more sensitivity, more empathy for all the refugees! Often I hear that the refugees have to go back because we can’t take them or we can’t afford more.
The only solution is to start together. And have a new feeling of solidarity. Not only the old one, but really sticking together. Help one another and never say you have to learn from me. We are new to learning, new to listening, new to saving.
We need the abolition of all discriminations. The abolishment of all violence, sexual violence and all the other forms...
I hope that today is the day where we start once more, inspired and convinced by the Iranian uprising and their cries for the needs of human beings; being protected, being safe, being free.
And all our lectures about freedom have a deeper sense: that first of all human beings are free to sing, to create, to help one another, and to continue to show another perspective on how to govern the world.
That was what we discussed this morning among women. We need new perspectives, not the old ones. We can learn from the old ones, but we have to enlarge them, to enrich them. And look at the world today, and women are able to give the right answers when they have the opportunity. They especially have the mental power and spirit to speak about their convictions in a better world.
Let us stick together. Fight together. It’s not going to happen without fighting. But we can and we are able to (make it happen). Thank you.