On March 4th, the Iranian Resistance hosted an international conference in honor of International Women’s Day, where several renowned women leaders from Europe and the United States attended and showed their support for the Iranian people’s revolution, with a focus on the leading role of women. They also highlighted the history of women’s struggle against Iran’s misogynistic regime, particularly the sacrifices made by female members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). The keynote speaker was Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
Mrs. Rajavi emphasized the importance of restoring the rights of the oppressed for democracy, with a focus on the freedom and rights of Iranian women. She also discussed the NCRI’s 36-year-old plan for outlining the rights and freedoms of women. Other speakers included Ms. Sarvenaz Chitsaz, chair of the NCRI’s Women’s Committee, Linda Chavez, former White House Director of Public Liaison, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, former German Minister of Defense, Dominique Attias, President of the European Law Society Federation, Latifa Aït Baala, Member of the Parliament of Brussels, Prof. Yakın Ertürk, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Margarita Duran Vadell, Judy A. Sgro, Canadian MP, Candice Bergen Harris, MP, Leader of Canada’s Conservative Party (2022), former Spanish Senator and journalist, Maria Greca, former Romanian MP, Kathleen Depoorter and Member of the Belgian Parliament.
The conference focused on the desire for freedom and democracy in Iran and the opposition to the misogynistic policies of the clerical regime. The speakers praised the leadership of Mrs. Rajavi and the sacrifices made by women in the struggle for freedom and dignity in Iran. They also condemned the IRGC as a terrorist organization and the oppressive regime in Tehran.
Ms. Sarvenaz Chitsaz, Chair of the NCRI’s Women’s Committee, said, “In our resistance against the misogynist policies of the clerical regime, the leading and impressive role of women in the uprising is the result of this 44-year struggle. Naturally, the indispensable role of Mrs. Rajavi, the NCRI president-elect, in achieving equality and the empowerment of all women is outstanding.”
Linda Chavez, former White House Director of Public Liaison, spoke about the MEK, saying, “There has been, for decades now, an organization and a group that has fought the regime. And that, of course, is the MEK. And it is led by a woman. Maryam Rajavi has been a leader of this organization for decades. And she has been someone who has been fearlessly standing up to the regime in Tehran.”
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, former German Minister of Defense (2019-2021), said, “Head of International Women’s Day, we are here to say no to a regime that destroys its own future, a regime that does not believe in peace, and a regime that fears people deciding their own politics. We want to say yes to a free Iran, a democratic Iran, and an international policy that supports the people of Iran not just in words but also in action.”
Dominique Attias, President of the European Law Society Federation and vice-boutonniere of Paris, spoke about the people of Iran and their desire for freedom and democracy. “The people of Iran are shouting no to Shah, no to mullahs. People want freedom and democracy. They don’t want forced religious laws. They reject the dictatorship of Khamenei and all factions of the regime. They are saying down to the dictator, Shah, and mullahs.”
Latifa Aït Baala, Member of the Parliament of Brussels, said, “This struggle is not just about the hijab. It’s about freedom and human rights, the rights of minorities, and the end of violence. The protests across the globe and the Iranian people want a democratic state. They want a democratic republic. They don’t want the theocracy.”
Prof. Yakın Ertürk, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women (2003-2006), spoke about the long history of Iranian women in the struggle for emancipation from prohibitions imposed by law and misogynist practices. “Therefore, today’s protests are, in a way, the outcome of nearly two centuries of struggle for civil rights.”
Margarita Duran Vadell, former Spanish Senator and journalist, spoke about the leadership of Maryam Rajavi and the sacrifices made by women in the struggle for freedom and dignity in Iran. “The main opposition to the mullahs’ regime is led by a woman, Maryam Rajavi. Behind every act of rebellion and opposition, there have been women, followed by jail, torture, and execution. That is the price of freedom and dignity in Iran.”
“Just as we have seen with the forced hijab during the recent uprising, innocent girls have been subject to IRGC’s brutal rage. This is a grim reminder of Iran’s past denial of acid attacks on women. I applaud the leadership of Madam Rajavi. Women are the force for change in Iran. The MEK Resistance Units are leading the way to freedom. They are driven by women who have sacrificed under two dictatorships,” said Maria Greca, former Romanian MP.
Kathleen Depoorter, a Member of the Belgian Parliament, praised the National Council of Resistance of Iran, especially their commitment to gender equality and freedom. She also lauded Mrs. Rajavi as a role model for women’s leadership, noting how she empowers women to be political leaders and take charge of their future.
Judy A. Sgro, Canadian MP, expressed her strong condemnation of the IRGC as a terrorist organization while admiring Madame Rajavi’s ten-point plan, which she sees as a model for the world to follow, not just for Iran.
Zinat Mirhashemi, a Member of the NCRI and the Central Committee of the Cherik-Hay-E Fedaii Organization (OIPFG), was briefly introduced without further elaboration on her remarks.
MEK member Ms. Maryam Zoljalal recognized the courage and bravery of women in the Resistance Units throughout Iran, particularly the generation that refused to accept the Shah and Khomeini’s oppression. She pledged to fight, pay the price, and bring victory to the people of Iran.
MEK member Ms. Sima Bagherzadeh spoke of the honor and determination she feels as a member of the MEK, a generation that is breaking the cycle of dictatorship. She acknowledged the sacrifices of women in the MEK and the leadership of Maryam Rajavi as critical to their struggle.
Candice Bergen Harris, MP, Leader of Canada’s Conservative Party (2022), recognized the courage, sacrifice, and commitment of the women and people of Iran, praising them for their resilience. She also drew a comparison between Mrs. Rajavi and an “iron fist in a velvet glove,” alluding to her strength and resilience.
NCRI Member Fleur Sadoudi hailed the PMOI members for their longstanding struggle for freedom in Iran and for standing against the mullahs and their supporters. She also recognized Mrs. Maryam Rajavi as the flag-bearer of the resistance.
Aysan Jadiri, a MEK supporter, emphasized the inseparability of the movement for women’s liberation and the movement for regime change. According to her, the two go hand in hand.
Fatemeh Sarhadi, a laboratory science specialist from the Association for Human Rights and Democracy, spoke about her experience as a Baluch woman under both the Shah and the mullahs’ regimes. She shared that poverty was widespread in Baluchestan during Shah’s dictatorship, and unfortunately, it continued under the current regime.
Hoda Emrani highlighted the importance of the Resistance Units as pioneers of freedom in Iran. She acknowledged the many challenges faced by women in different countries but emphasized that Iran is under the rule of the mullahs.
Rama Yade, former French Minister of Human Rights, praised the feminist movement for being the trigger, driver, and heart of a national revolution. She noted the strength of the movement and how it has been the director of the revolution. According to Yade, the MEK and Mrs. Rajavi have led the movement for 30 years, and she expressed her gratitude to Mrs. Rajavi for her leadership.
Oleksandra Matviichuk, head of the Center for Civil Liberties (Ukraine) and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize 2022 and Democracy Defender Award of OSCE 2016, commented on the unique aspect of this revolution – that it has been led by women. She noted that all revolutions in the world have started with young people, women, young men, poets, architects, and everyone in between marching for freedom, human rights, democracy, and a future free of the mullahs and dictators that have ruined Iran, making the world a more dangerous place.