Resolved and Resilient, Iranian Women Journey Toward Freedom and Equality
The theocratic regime in Iran holds its grip on power through domestic repression and export of terrorism; both justified with religious “Islamic fundamentalism.”
Misogyny is the regime’s nature, and a means to keep Iranian society in check. The Velayat-e Faqih principle (absolute clerical rule) is the pillar of the regime’s constitution.
But the Iranian women have never succumbed to the regime’s repression and misogynistic policies. For the last four decades, they bravely challenged the regime through civil disobedience, organizing and standing at the forefront of widespread protests and uprisings, joining the ranks, and accepting a leadership role in the Iranian Resistance movement.
Hence, women represent the single most prominent force for a democratic change in Iran, which will neutralize a serious global threat that is the theocratic regime, benefiting the region and the entire world.
On Monday, March 8, marking International Women’s Day, the Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), alongside the International Committee of Parliamentarians for a Democratic Iran and the British Committee for Iran Freedom (BCFIF), hold an online conference.
— NCRI-FAC (@iran_policy) March 3, 2021
Sarvenaz Chitsaz, Chair of the NCRI’s Women’s Committee
The women of MEK have been fighting against the misogynist regime of Iran. They have always been committed to their people’s resistance and freedom. These struggling women are the real heroines of women’s rights and human rights in Iran. We in the Iranian Resistance are determined to achieve freedom and equality.
Maryam Rajavi has been leading the fight for change in Iran. She is an inspiration for all the women who are resisting against the misogynist rule of the mullahs. Freedom of the Iranian people will be achieved by this determination.
Baroness Verma, Former UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development
The IWD campaign for 2021 is “Choose To Challenge.” We can all help to create an inclusive world. It is important that this conference brings us all together, men and women. My sisters in the Iranian Resistance are taking the highest risks to free all Iranian women. They are fighting for equality. They have learned to liberate themselves under gender apartheid. They have put aside the self disbelief that many women are accustomed to. For decades, their persistence has sent a clear message to the mullahs in Iran: Women have chosen to challenge and will not give up until Iran is free.
Women in the Iranian Resistance have fought hard for the future of Iran.
NCRI President-elect Maryam Rajavi
Women’s struggle and sacrifice have been and are the foundations of progress and the guarantee for democracy in our world. And henceforth, a world without injustice, oppression, fundamentalism, and poverty hinges on women’s struggle.
This year, International Women’s Day carries a commitment for Iranian women: Namely, that we can, and we must secure the victory of freedom and equality amid disease, oppression, and poverty.
The outcome of the significant gender gap in Iran is the imposition of extreme poverty on women and the denial of many of their most basic rights.
The misogynous regime wants to preserve its rule through repression. However, Iranian women play critical roles in challenging the regime and pushing the situation towards overthrowing the mullahs.
This is because women have tolerated the most oppression and suppression at the hands of this regime. As a result, they have greater motivation to end this regime.
In five nationwide uprisings, Iranian women have demonstrated remarkable heroism and their qualifications in setting up Resistance Units and enjoying the pivotal role in the organized resistance movement.
Iranian women have put the responsibility to end the catastrophe caused by the ruling theocracy on their shoulders and are prepared to make it happen.
The trampling of women’s rights is the most flagrant aspect of the elimination of the human rights of the Iranian people by the ruling mullahs.
Thus, all those concerned about the threats posed by this regime to the international community must support Iranian women’s resistance.
Efforts to contain and control the regime’s nuclear program will not succeed unless they are coupled with firmness against violations of the human rights of the people of Iran.
Call on your governments to make economic and political ties with the criminal mullah regime conditional upon respect for human rights in Iran, especially women and prisoners’ rights.
There is a long line of women who are resisting in prisons across Iran. And although there is not much talk about them, but they are among the most resistant fighters for human rights.
In the name of the equality movement, I urge all advocates of gender equality across the world to support the arisen women of Iran and the Iranian people’s uprising for freedom.
Baroness Harris of Richmond, Deputy Speaker of the UK House of Lords
We know how appallingly women in Iran are treated and we stand in solidarity with you as you fight the tyranny of the mullahs.
You stand at the forefront of the battle for human rights and for a fair, free and democratic country following Madam Rajavi’s ten-point plan, which is a blueprint for freedom. We in the West will be watching carefully what happens in the future and we hope and pray that when we meet again, your lives will be immeasurably better and that you will be able to live in peace in your own land at last.
Baroness Eaton, Member of the House of Lords
Why is the clerical regime so desperate to fight women in every form and shape it can? It has executed 120,000 of the best people of Iran. Iran has taken no action to ratify gender discrimination. Women took leadership roles to not only fight for their own rights but to lift their nation from the dark depths of a medieval regime.
I firmly believe the regime in Iran is a clear and present danger to our security, and to the Iranian people, particularly Iranian women. My heart goes out to the suffering women and mothers. What should we do? Is it enough to talk about these women, or do we have a duty to act?
The relation with the regime in Iran must be contingent on improvement of human rights conditions and especially women’s rights. We have to recognize that the NCRI is our ally because peace and stability in the Middle East can only be achieved and maintained when the malign activities of the regime in Iran are stopped, and this can only be achieved by supporting the efforts of the Iranian Resistance to establish freedom in Iran.
Zamaswazi Dlamini-Mandela, Human Rights Activist and Granddaughter of the Late Nelson Mandela
The women of Iran have been subject to extreme atrocities. The regime’s constitution proclaims equality between women and men. However, Sharia law discriminates against women. All major religions believe all people are equal. The Islamic regime sees women as its enemies. My heart weeps for those who have lost their lives.
The report by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran in 2013 states atrocities such as raping of women before execution. We stand with the women in Iran in their struggle for freedom and equality.
Laura Farris MP
For so many women around the world, the struggle for equality has barely started. For women in Iran, even their most basic rights have been neglected. It is an honor to stand shoulder to shoulder with women in Iran in their struggle.
It’s a moment to think in the UK about Nazanin Zaghari Radcliffe. I also think about the story of Zahra Esmaili, who was the victim of domestic abuse, and who suffered and died of a heart attack but was still sent to the gallows and executed.
We stand in solidarity with Iranian women, particularly those who have stood at the forefront of protests in the past 40 years. We follow your progress here and stand up for you in parliament and will continue to do so. We commit to make your voices heard.
Lord Alton of Liverpool, Member of the House of Lords
Iran’s women are denied their most basic rights, they have no protection in their own homes and they can’t even choose their own clothing. One of the regime’s most overlooked victims are the mothers of the Iranian activists who have been cruelly executed. Political prisoners and detained activists during the last 40 years, their mothers too, including the 1,500 protestors who were killed in November 2019 when the regime’s Supreme Leader ordered the security forces to crush the nationwide popular protests, all of them have mothers.
On this day, International Women’s Day, we lend our voices to these grieving mothers and their family members. Victims of the regime demand justice and they demand accountability for officials and leaders in Iran who are responsible for the extra judicial killings of their children and the use of widespread torture and cruelty. And we stand with them. We do so by calling on the United Kingdom government and European Union governments to impose sanctions on these perpetrators, including the judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
On this International Women’s Day, we recognize and applaud the many brave Iranian women who are at the forefront of the anti-regime protests in Iran in the last three years and who are leading the organized opposition and resistance that is spearheading the struggle for a free and democratic Iran. We know that NCRI President-elect Maryam Rajavi has presented a democratic alternative to the current theocracy, summarized in her ten-point platform for a future of Iran. This platform ensures that in the future leaders are elected by universal suffrage and not selected by Khamenei.
I call on the United Kingdom government and the international community to recognize the NCRI and its democratic platform for a future Iran and to support them as the real expression of the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people and to reach out to NCRI President-elect Madam Maryam Rajavi, as a representative of the Iranian people in their desire for change, and working with her for a free and a democratic Iran.
Jennifer Carol McNeill, Member of Dáil Éireann (Irish Parliament), Spokesperson on Equality
We understand the impact of a theocratic regime on the people of a country. On this day, we stand in solidarity with the brave Iranian women who have been standing at the forefront of the anti-regime protests. We stand in thought and practice with the people of Iran and support their struggle for democracy.
Ranjana Kumari, Director of the Centre for Social Research (India), Senior Professional in Gender Eqality at the UN
To the brave sisters of the Iranian Resistance, I send my greetings. Your determination is a source of inspiration to the women of Iran. The women of Iran have led a brave struggle for freedom in Iran. We are proud to have played a part in this struggle, even if it is small. Today, a new generation of women have entered the struggle. We witnessed the courage of women in the November 2019 protests. Even the regime admitted women had a leading role in the protests. Iran’s prisons are packed with political prisons, including Maryam Akbari Monfared, Fatemeh Mosana, Parastoo Moeini, and many others. We will continue to campaign for their release.
The point is that women of all nationalities and religions and social classes should enjoy equal rights with men. And this is what Madam Rajavi’s ten-point plan represents. I’m confident that it is the women of Iran who will defeat the misogynist regime of Iran. Where does the courage of Iran’s women come from? The resistance is led by a woman, Madam Maryam Rajavi. We are all inspired by your leadership.
We wish a bright future for all the people of Iran. Until that bright future is realized, you can count on us.
Dr. Matthew Offord MP
The women of Iran deserve our support and greater international recognition in their struggle against the brutal regime of Iran. I want to highlight the case of Nazanin Zaghari Radcliffe. She has finished her sentence and must be released.
The UK must work with our allies to refer the regime’s human rights abuses and terrorist acts to the UN Security Council. By combining nuclear, terrorist, and human rights concerns, the international community can address the regime’s threats. The UN Human Rights Rapporteur must be allowed to inspect Iran’s prisons and meet with prisoners.
Efforts to contain the regime’s nuclear ambitions will not succeed without addressing the regime’s human rights abuses. We must make sure Iran’s people enjoy human rights instead of giving the regime incentives.
Baroness Cox, Crossbench Member of the House of Lords
I want to take this opportunity to express my solidarity with the women in Iran. I also want to thank Madam Rajavi for her explicit remarks. I’m encouraged to hear of your ten-point plan that is completely in contrast to the mullahs’ regime. Iran, under the theocratic regime, is under a gender apartheid. There should be global support for the grassroot movements in Iran. We know the leader of this resistance movement is Madam Rajavi with women being at the front of the anti-government movement against this regime. Women in Iran should enjoy their rights as we do in the West.
The West and international community should pressure Iran to release all foreign nationals taken as hostages. The women of Iran are already committed in a struggle to achieve women’s rights.
Theresa Villiers MP, Former UK Secretary of State for Environment
This is an opportunity to pay tribute to brave women in Iran and around the world who stand up to misogyny. The regime in Iran has reduced women to second-class citizens. By contrast, Madam Rajavi leads a movement that embraces women’s rights and empowers women to pursue their equal opportunities and shape their country’s future.
The regime faces growing protests and popular dissent. The UK and international community must decide which side of history they will stand with. I ask the UK government to put pressure on the regime to release political prisoners, especially the women. The regime fears the empowerment of women.
Sir David Amess MP
We believe discrimination exists against women throughout the world. In countries like Iran, it is getting worse. The Iranian regime is creating more concern and worries for the world while the Iranian Resistance movement is creating hope for progress. The regime arrests social and political activists. The conditions of those arrested in uprisings is outrageous. The regime continues torture and ill treatment of prisoners, particularly political prisoners.
A shocking Amnesty International report revealed shocking torture of protesters detained in November 2019. Amnesty concluded the regime committed widespread human rights abuses. I urge everyone to read the report.
The regime continued its use of medieval and inhumane punishments in 2020, including the amputation of fingers of prisoners. While the regime plunders national wealth, the judiciary issues harsh sentences for petty crimes such as thievery.
Poor Iranian porters are under double pressure: poverty and oppression. The clerical regime is at war with Iran’s population, both inside and outside Iran.
We need a robust policy vis a vis the regime. The IRGC must be designated. It is time for the UN Human Rights commissioner to set up a commission for human rights abuses in Iran. Iranian authorities must be held accountable for their human rights violations.
Jane Dodds, Leader of Welsh Liberal Democrats
We know that the flame of feminism is so alive in Iran. Here in Wales we have democracy. In Iran, we know how underrepresented women are. In 2016, women in Iran were arrested for peaceful protests. We in Wales must do more to ensure our sisters in Iran are protected. We support all you do and wish you all the best.
David Jones MP, Former UK Secretary of State for Wales
We remember those brave women who continue to defy the Iranian regime despite their harsh conditions. We urge our government and the international community to put pressure on the regime to release political prisoners. Our leaders have consistently failed to adopt appropriate measures against the regime. The IRGC and Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) must be designated as terrorist organizations.
We must consider reducing diplomatic relations with Iran. The regime abused its diplomatic privileges by trying to bomb an NCRI rally in France. We need a new uniform and robust approach to the regime of Iran.
To succeed, this policy must include dialog with the NCRI and its President-elect Madam Maryam Rajavi. Iran stands on the brink of change. Western nations must be ready to show their support for a free Iran now, where the role of women is recognized.
Anna Fotyga, MEP, Former Foreign Minister of Poland
We have to know that today, we face the murderous and extremely cruel regime of Iran. Today, I will focus on the courageous women of Iran, leading the struggle for freedom in their country, facing unbelievable atrocities. There were women victims of capital punishment in Iran. There were women peacefully protesting who were unbelievably treated cruelly by the mullahs’ regime.
The Iranian women who stay outside their country are very outspoken and they persevere in their work to enhance and to modernize the society and to bring Iran once more to the family of free nations. I pay tribute to the excellent work of Madam Rajavi and in the European Parliament, we stand by you.
Amber Rudd, UK Home Secretary (2016-2018), Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Minister for Women and Equalities up to 2019
The women of Iran endure much, and they are very brave to object. It is remarkable. They have to endure a religious regime that gives them very few rights. They don’t have access to law and welfare that we women in the West take for granted. In democracies, we have a system that has checks and balances to make changes and address inequalities. The public can challenge decisions. Democracy has accountability at its core. In Iran, it is so much more difficult to challenge the regime. Difficult and illegal. But the women of Iran choose to challenge, not only today, but every day.
Challenging the oppression of women is not only for women to do. Men have an important role everywhere in recognizing equality. Iran will only be free when the women of Iran are free.
Steve McCabe MP
Sadly, today, Iran is not a place that celebrates women. Iranian authorities have no respect for their own people or other countries. The men in charge of the IRGC, the mullahs who torture, murder, and rape, they don’t respect diplomacy. Concessions are a sign of caving in. We should make it clear that we won’t negotiate with them unless they abandon nuclear ambitions, terrorist activities. We want Nazanin Zaghari to be back home in London. That is not negotiable. We shouldn’t negotiate until they respect human rights and the rights of women. We salute the brave women who won’t be silenced and we praise the leadership of Madam Rajavi.
Bob Blackman MP, Co-Chairman of the International Committee of Parliamentarians for a Democratic Iran
I express my support for and send my best wishes to the Iranian women who are shouldering the main responsibility and hard task to bring down one of the most oppressive regimes in history and in our time.
Misogyny is the regime’s nature. It justifies and enforces the domestic repression of women by clamping down on women and implementing the repressive and obligatory dress-code against them. The regime has no capacity to reform. In other words, the principle of the velayat-e faqih (absolute clerical rule) is the pillar of the regime’s constitution, and it cannot be changed even through a referendum.
The regime in Iran acts as a pariah state with nuclear extortion, hostage-taking diplomacy, terrorism and destabilising the region complemented with a brutal domestic crackdown on legitimate protests, opposition, and dissenting voices.
This unacceptable behaviour must be met with maximum pressure and not maximum diplomacy by the UK and her allies in Europe and the US.
The UK, Europe and US need to listen to the people of Iran and apply maximum pressure.
Supporting the Iranian people and the NCRI to free Iran from the grip of this brutal regime is the only long-term sustainable solution to secure and advance human rights, democracy and equality in Iran. This must be the centre and ultimate goal of UK policy on Iran.
Women are standing up to the regime to realise the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people, which today, in my view, converges with both the economic and security interests of the UK and Europe at large.
This is the real win-win policy for the UK and Iran, in contrast to dialogue and the flawed nuclear deal with the mullahs that many civil servants, diplomats and proponents of appeasing the regime claim.
Senator Catherine Noone From the Fine Gael Party in the Irish Senate (2016-2020)
The situation in Iran is particularly bad. Iran is at the top of countries with records of violence against women. Women’s rights will never be achieved under the rule of the mullahs. Violence against women is institutionalized in the law. The women of Iran spearhead the struggle to overthrow the regime in Iran.
Anthea Mcintyre, Former MEP From the UK (2004-2019)
I find it sickening to see European officials pursuing trade relations, appeasing mullahs, and ignoring their human rights abuses, especially against women. The regime of mullahs’ President Hassan Rouhani has increased restrictions against women. Many women are in prison because they dared to express their opinion. Let us promise our sisters in Iran that we will choose to challenge and will do everything we can to help bring this change.
Zinat Mirhashemi, Member of the NCRI and the Central Committee of the Cherik-Hay-E Fedaii Organization (OIPFG)
In Iran we have well-educated women who are challenging the regime, and on the other hand we have a brutal regime that is repressing the people and their freedoms. The rules and laws of the mullahs’ regime support violence against women. The regime has enchained the women in rules that date back to centuries ago. But facing this regime is the will and determination of the women of Iran. Women are at the forefront of protests and the struggle against the regime. There were many women in the November 2019 protests and are currently in Iran’s prisons resisting against the regime.
Christian Wakeford MP
The people of Iran are held back by a brutal regime that has poor views on women and human rights. The women of Iran are ready to thrive, but they are held back. They have strong supporters across the globe. We will do anything we can to help the cause of women in Iran. We need peace in Iran. Without peace in Iran, we won’t have peace in the Middle East. You will have the support and the means to have your voices heard, because for far too long, you haven’t been heard.
Struan Stevenson, Coordinator of the Campaign for Iran Change in Iran and a Former MEP From Scotland
Young Iranian women are becoming increasingly engaged in the growing opposition to the mullah’s corrupt regime. They are joining the Resistance Units that are springing up in every town and city in Iran.
Today, Iranian women are at the forefront of the resistance to the theocratic dictatorship. Indeed the main democratic opposition movement, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), is led by a woman, the charismatic Maryam Rajavi. Brave women are now routinely joining their brothers to demand regime change and an end to the misogyny and repression which has terrorized not only the Iranian people for the past four decades but a vast part of the Middle East as well.
The women of Iran are no longer prepared to be silenced. They will be heard and their cry for freedom and democracy will resonate around the world.
Sir Roger Gale MP, UK Representative at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
The Iranian people are the victims of the poor choices made by the regime. For the UK-Iran relationship to be meaningful, the UK must build on our values shared with the Iranian people.
The UK government must engage with the pro-democracy resistance movement, the NCRI, and president-elect Madam Rajavi. Women are playing a vital role in shaping protests and the struggle against the regime for the past 42 years.
The UK must not hold a one-sided dialogue that doesn’t respect its own people. We must hear the aspirations of the Iranian people.
The time has come for a more robust approach. We recommend the government to develop cases on human rights abuses in Iran, including those against dual nationals.
The head of Iran’s judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi, is a prime target for sanctions. Given his role in atrocities, including the 1988 massacre of political prisoners and the 2019 protests, what better way to support the people of Iran than to declare new sanctions against Raisi.
I send my wishes to the women of Iran, especially the brave women leading the resistance.
Senator Michelle Mulherin From the Fine Gael Party in the Irish Senate
It is very hard for us as women in the western world to imagine what can be happening to women in Iran. The manner in which the Iranian regime is treating its citizens especially its women is handicapping the progress of the country. The behavior of oppression and brutality against women who speak out shows that the regime is desperate and it is the only way it can govern.
Giso Shakeri, renowned Iranian singer
We will continue our struggle to overthrow the mullahs’ regime. We will not forget the crimes of this regime.
To the mullahs I say, you are right to fear us because we will bring you down. We will stand. Your overthrow is the first step to reach freedom.
We will do everything we can to help the women of Iran achieve their rights. We will continue to support the women of Kurdistan.
Archbishop Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury
Any regime, any society, in which women’s skills and capacities are systematically denied or oppressed is one that must cause great concern in the global community. And we know that this is one of the great problems facing the Iranian society under its present regime. It is a very striking fact indeed, that women have been at the forefront of protest and resistance within Iran, especially within the last couple of years.
And the fact that women have played so prominent, and so transforming courageous a role in the politics of Iranian society in resistance to tyranny tells its story. It tells a story of repression and discontent, but also of confidence and hope.
Dignity is not afforded to the 42 million women living in Iran. Discrimination is entrenched in every aspect of their lives. We are undeterred in the face of discrimination and abuse. We are stronger and more determined than ever. With the leadership of Madam Rajavi and the NCRI, we have a platform to channel our energy toward the change the women of Iran so much deserve.
Lady Val Corbett
I wish for regime change in Iran so that it can be a country of diversity where women can take their right place in their society. Women are at the forefront of the struggle for freedom. Despite the brutality of the regime, these nonviolent protests work. I send this message from the free women of Britain to the women of Iran: We regard you as the bravest of the brave. Know that we regard you as our sisters. We support your right to be heard. Iran will be free.
Hellen Williams Women’s Rights Activist
As we gather to celebrate women’s social, economic, cultural and political achievements and increasing visibility in these areas, we must not forget that sadly there are so many parts of the world where women struggle to achieve their most fundamental rights, let alone equality. The great country of Iran is sadly at the forefront of that inequality.
On this special day, we remind the women of Iran that their struggle is not theirs alone, but the collective efforts of all of us who care about human rights.
Any system of government which promotes misogyny and oppression is doomed to fail. This is a historical fact. It is also evident, as we’ve been hearing today, that all too often, women and some young juvenile women, are prime victims of the regime and yet they are in the forefront of the calls for change. The leadership of Maryam Rajavi represents progressive hope for the women of Iran. I am certain that the day will come when the women of Iran are free, enjoying the same rights as men and are able to represent and lead their country. The UK should support these brave Iranian women so that that day will come sooner rather than later. So we must challenge the regime on women’s rights, call out inequality and resolutely support the Iranian women’s struggle for equality and a free and democratic Iran.
Senator Erin McGreehan From the Fine Gael Party in the Irish Senate
The women of the world stand with you. Iranian women have never surrendered to misogynistic policies. I stand in solidarity with the brave women of Iran.