Ranjana Kumari, Director of the Centre for Social Research (CSR) – India
Chairperson for Women Power Connect, member of the Facebook International Safety Advisory Board and Twitter Trust and Safety Council
Remarks at IWD conference on "Women Force for Change, Iran Uprising and Women's Role"
Paris – February 17, 2018
Thank you for inviting me. Especially when there is a good message coming from Iran that the brave women of Iran fear none. They are strong. They fight back, Mrs. Rajavi, with you and your leadership. And they are marching towards victory.
I want to emphasize that when women rise up, nations achieve their freedom and independence. Iranian women have been fighting for so many years, but in December 2017, we saw them on the social media confronting the police. Their pictures came to us. We saw this one brave girl, walking through the smoke of tear gas. Bullets were being fired at them, but she walked through and shouted her slogan for freedom and democracy in Iran.
We knew, and all the world has now gotten the message, that now the women and men of Iran are not going to really look back. Freedom is coming. It’s there.
The victory for forces of freedom and democracy is going to be really somewhere just around the corner. I can see that Iranian women have really given their own courage and strength, and their voice to this whole movement.
And Mrs. Rajavi, this is the time when I think there is need for the last push to get there, to the final victory.
As you were all told, I work for safety and security of women and children on social media. I have worked, extensively and I want to emphasize the role of social media.
47 million Iranian people, young and old, women, children, and young people are using the social media space. So, when you speak here Mrs. Rajavi, they see it. They share it with each other; I am sure they are talking to each other sending messages.
So, that is a very, very important power that you have in your hands. These hashtags are extremely important because that is the way you can reach out. When the media (in Iran) is under the control of the regime, when the electronic and print media buckle in and they are hands in gloves of the regime, or they are very fearful, then you have a very fearless space, and that is the internet.
That is the internet through which you can connect. I saw it in this whole Iranian spring when young people could gather together and send messages. They were connecting with each other, they were gathering at a particular point and they were protesting, using social media, effectively.
So that is a very important thing that 47 million people (in Iran) are using the social media, even when it is banned. In 2009, Iran banned the Facebook and all the social media, restricted access to the internet. In spite of the ban, people are using it effectively and they are able to connect with each other.
I think this is extremely important for you to understand.
The people of Iran, especially women of Iran, they can connect with each other now. Today, Mrs. Rajavi gave the call of forming those groups of resistance wherever you are.
And I am sure that is why we are with you, standing here.
We shall be standing with you until you achieve democracy in your country with the fearless fight that you have started in your own country.
What happened in December, I am sure is really important to all of you.
The most important thing is that this is a movement for freedom and democracy, and it respects the dignity of women, and it is also against all forms of exploitation in the name of religion. So, this patriarchal, misogynistic, fundamentalist force will be defeated by women and their leadership.
As we are approaching the 8th of March, I wish you more power. Much more strength to you because on the 8th of March, when we celebrate the International Women’s Day, Iranian women are giving this message from inside Iran to women around the world that when you find the courage to fight, then you’re not just fighting for freedom from exploitation but also for your own people to achieve democracy, freedom, and human rights in your own country.
That is the message that is coming out of your country and I’m sure that we will be standing to see you all winning this battle that you have been fighting for decades now. Thank you.