"Women in the Iranian Resistance-Defying the Misogynist Regime, Paying the Price of Freedom" conference in MEK's camp in Albania

Women’s Rights Activists Discuss Role of Women in Iran’s Future at Free Iran Conference

"Women in the Iranian Resistance-Defying the Misogynist Regime, Paying the Price of Freedom" conference in MEK's camp in Albania

The President-elect of the Iranian opposition, Maryam Rajavi, addressing the conference, “Women in the Iranian Resistance-Defying the Misogynist Regime, Paying the Price of Freedom” in Ashraf 3, MEK’s compound in Albania

The fourth day of the Free Iran Conference at Ashraf 3 on Sunday concluded with a seminar entitled “Women in the Iranian Resistance: Defying the Misogynist Regime, Paying the Price of Freedom.” Women’s rights activists and prominent female voices from around the world gathered at Ashraf 3 to discuss the struggle of Iranian women under the mullahs and to express their solidarity with Maryam Rajavi and the Iranian Resistance.

Highlights from the conference, including Mrs. Maryam Rajavi’s keynote address, are below:

Maryam Rajavi

President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)

Mrs. Rajavi described the current status of Iranian women under the mullahs’ regime during the first portion of her speech. “Women have no role in the ruling regime and in its decision-making at any level of its hierarchy,” she said. “Another issue is depriving women of their personal and social freedoms and their right to free choice,” Mrs. Rajavi added, noting that women in Iran were not free to travel without restrictions or dress as they would like.

“Another issue is the hideous inequalities of discrimination against women under the clerical regime: drastic inequalities in job opportunities, in wages, in education, in testimony before a court, in having access to medical services and insurance, in their share of inheritance, access to sports fields and stadiums, and denials in every realm.” she continued.

 

“Such discrimination in any society in any juncture in history would mean subjugation of the people, suppression, and plundering of political rights,” Mrs. Rajavi stressed.

 

“You might have heard claims that if the mullahs were to be overthrown, Iran would experience chaos, disasters and destitution. But aren’t Iranian women living in conditions even worse than war-torn countries? Aren’t they suffering from poverty, unemployment and homelessness?” she asked.

 

“Another issue is promoting violence against women. Women in Iran do not feel safe anywhere: not at work, not in the streets, and not at home,” Mrs. Rajavi went on.

 

“Inhumane treatment of women in prison is also common practice,” she added.

Mrs. Rajavi explained the reason for the appalling treatment of women in Iran, saying, “Misogyny is the driving force and the essence of the regime’s suppression of the society in general.”

“The common answer to all these problems, ranging from poverty and discrimination to lack of free choice, lies in freedom and equality. Not just equality and not just freedom. But both freedom and equality,” she stressed.

 

“I have always emphasized that women not only free themselves but free their societies at large,” she added.

Mrs. Rajavi saluted all of the Iranian political prisoners who are currently sitting in the mullahs’ jails. “In addition to political opposition, they have committed the unforgivable crime: to be a rebellious woman. To be a woman and not surrender, to be a woman and persevere in the struggle, to be a woman and instead of thinking about yourself think about the liberation of people in chains, this is something that has driven the mullahs insane,” she said.

Sarvenaz Chitsaz

Chair of the NCRI Women’s Committee

Speaking to the activists who helped relocate MEK members from Camp Liberty, Chitsaz said, “You are members of the large family of resistance. You fought for freedom alongside the Ashrafis. You extended support to them through their endeavors.”

“Every woman in the resistance has made her own choice. They have played a key role in creating this resistance with their perseverance in the regime’s dungeons enduring medieval torture by the misogynistic mullahs and also with their 14 years of resistance at Camp Ashraf amd Liberty,” said Chitsaz.

 

“This is an unprecedented phenomenon in the history of women’s struggle. This explains why Iranian women inside Iran have been able to resist against the misogynistic regime and its harsh oppression and why they are at the forefront of the battle against the regime and leading protests in Iran. They see the history of the women in Ashraf and they are inspired by their resistance. This is why the regime targets Iranian women to such an extent,” she explained.

 

“The mullahs’ incessant savagery toward women is the driving force of the regime in its suppression of the Iranian society,” Ms. Chitsaz concluded.

Senator Ingrid Betancourt

Former Senator and Colombian Presidential candidate

“When you will be in Tehran, and it will happen soon, you will face a tremendous challenge. You are the only real organization where women are consistently at the top. You will be confronted by the fact that taking power in a country like Iran, with 80 million inhabitants, one of the big countries in the Middle East, both by population and by geopolitical importance: it’s not a small challenge. Whatever you do will reflect on the whole world,” Ms. Betancourt emphasized.

“The impact you will have because you have a woman leader because it’s in a country that has been ruled by a misogynist regime, the impact will be like an atomic bomb. So whatever is done in those first few months will define what the next generation of women will be able to do in the world. This is a very serious responsibility,” she continued.

“Another challenge is religion…When religion is involved, it becomes very personal to women. One of the things that we have to be aware of is that this system of patriarchy, it’s a mind frame that we all have in ourselves, man and woman. We have to be conscious about it and we have to fight it in ourselves and others. When you transition to a secular government, you will have to deal not only with the clergy but also with women and men who are not ready for this change,” Betancourt stressed.

Dr. Ranjana Kumari

Director of the Centre for Social Research in India

“Whenever we’ve seen these struggles, one thing that is important to keep in mind is that women are in the line of fire. So many struggles where women have fought in the front lines. However, when the power came, women were made to go back to the kitchen…I’m so happy this is a unique organization where women are in top positions. You’re already involved in different levels of governance, you know how to exercise power,” said Dr. Kumari.

“Women’s rights are human rights. I’m very happy to see your leadership has underlined there will be no compromise on gender equality… When women take leadership, they can move mountains,” Dr. Kumari concluded.

Maria Candida Almeida

Deputy Attorney General of Portugal

“The ones who must defend the people’s rights against killings, massacres, and suppression. Horrible things are happening in Iran today, such as the killing of pregnant women. The international community must not accept this. This is why your cause is my cause. I am with you,” said Ms. Almeida.

“Your movement is an example to all of us. Your leader is courageous and strong. She is an example for all people and for me. In the past few days, I was encouraged to work harder for you when I return home. I hope you accept me as your messenger,” Ms. Almeida concluded.

Dr. Maria Ryan

CEO of Cottage Hospital

“As we move the regime out from Iran, it’s going to take a lot of work. This is where your strength becomes significant. I learned from you and your optimism. It’s impressive that you can overcome adversity and look to the future and what needs to happen,” she added.

Giuseppina Occhionero

Italian MP

“Your struggle for civil rights is an honor for all the world because you are an example of women who put fear behind them, and you, Mrs. Rajavi, your deep views for human rights: we will take home the same responsibilities,” said Ms. Occhionero.

 

“Today, we see that we can unite and we can struggle against inequality. You women are the force of change in Iran,” Ms. Occhionero continued. “You are the answer. To all the women who have paid the price of freedom, I thank you for this. The change will come through the fulfillment of women’s rights,” she concluded.

Zinat Mirhashemi

NCRI member and Editor in Chief of Nabard-e-Khalq Review

“In the 120 years of struggle for freedom in Iran, women have had an important role. In previous generations before the Revolution, the face of the struggle for freedom and equality was not just the face of men. They showed to the world that women have a significant role in this fight,” said Ms. Mirhashemi.

 

“And now we have reached a time when we see women’s roles in the highest ranks in such a struggle. This is the assurance of this organization’s future and that women’s equality will be fulfilled because these women are leaders,” she continued.

 

“In this movement, men and women are fighting together for a common cause. Where women have a significant role, victory is assured. The future is ours… The women who are in prison are our pride. Our movement for justice in Iran has a wealth of women from across Iran,” Ms. Mirhashemi concluded.

Khadija Ziyani

Moroccan MP

“The world will remember you for what you have shown as women who strive for freedom. What you’ve accomplished in 18 months in building Ashraf 3 from scratch is something that we are proud of,” said Ziyani.

“I’m very optimistic that you will reach freedom, not for power and with power, but with hearts that don’t give up and are determined. You have high human values,” she added.

“I believe you will reach what you are fighting for because you have high determination. I’ve never seen such determination as I’ve seen in Mrs. Rajavi,” Ziyani concluded.

Maria Grecea

Former Romanian MP

“We are at a critical and sensitive moment in Iran’s history because the mullahs’ regime is at a political and social dead-end and we the supporters of the Iranian Resistance must help the people. History has proven to us that some things will change and the fascist dictators of Iran must fall,” said Grecea.

 

“This is important not only for the people of Iran but for the world because an exporter of terrorism will be eliminated. Your persistence was seen when the PMOI [MEK] built international support for Iranians, especially for the popular uprising of 2017/2018. The international pressure and the ongoing protests have put the regime in a difficult situation,” she continued.

Edit Bauer

Former MEP from Slovakia

“As a woman, what makes your resistance special to me is the key role played by women in the struggle for freedom in Iran. Mrs. Rajavi has educated and trained a generation of women who are capable of leading Ashraf residents through ups and downs, but also a generation of men who can cooperate with women in building their nation,” said Bauer.

“You have confronted fundamentalism in a way that no other movement has. You have proven the failure of the mullahs’ ideology in practice. I’m seeing the strengthening of the support for your movement around the world,” she added.

Dr. Somaya Al JowderFormer Bahraini MP

“From you, I learned about being patient and giving to others. I learned from you that endurance is the answer to everything, and how we can add to our belief and our faith,” Dr. Al Jowder said to the women of the MEK.

“I have seen the perseverance of your men. They don’t fight to be first. We hope that our men in our country will do the same,” she added.

“Iran’s uprising and rebuilding of Iran will be done by you, the PMOI [MEK] women. I’m sure that next year, all of us will be celebrating democracy in Iran,” she concluded.

Flore Ram

Iranian human rights activist

“When I was young, I couldn’t leave my country without the permission of my husband. If a father died, the mother didn’t have the right to raise the children. When the mullahs came to our country, they ruled like ISIS. They imprisoned and raped women. There was nothing for the people of Iran. But standing against that is the Iranian Resistance and the women of the MEK,” said Ms. Ram.

“Mrs. Rajavi has been digging this cancerous tumor out of Iran. I’m very proud of you. I wish everyone could get to know you like we know you. This is the reality,” she added.

Concetta Giallombardo

President of the Association of Female Jurists from Italy

“Struggling for the equality of men and women is something that we must pay the price for. In your struggle and resistance; this has been reviewed. There’s a mindset that is different about the relationship between men and women. The relationship is about knowledge and understanding,” Ms. Giallombardo said.

“I would like to congratulate you for your mindset and how you view the relationship between men and women. I hope that under your viewpoint, we will see a new society,” she concluded.

Staff writer

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