Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), during a video message on the occasion of the International Women’s Day- March 8, 2019
On March 8th, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), gave a speech in honor of International Women’s Day.
In her speech, Mrs. Rajavi expressed her admiration and support for the brave women inside Iran and across the world who have fought against oppression and tyranny to achieve equality. She also saluted the women of the MEK who have endured torture at the hands of the mullahs and those who have protested against the theocratic regime currently in power in Iran.
“A Glorious Resistance Movement”
“Iranian women are proud to have struggled against forty years of despicable religious tyranny, since day one until now,” said Mrs. Rajavi. “They have produced a glorious resistance movement.”
Mrs. Rajavi pointed out the role that women have played in the people’s anti-regime protests that have been taking place in Iran for over a year. “In the midst of fear and silence, it is women who chant, ‘Death to Khamenei!’ in the face of the regime’s agents. They lead workers’ protests and become the voice of teachers and retirees. They inspire youth to stand up against the regime’s agents,” Rajavi stated.
She also saluted the courage of those who have been imprisoned for fighting for the cause of freedom and applauded the many women who have taken on leadership roles in the MEK’s Resistance Units, saying, “They persevere in prisons with extraordinary courage, alongside their sisters. And, in the ranks of freedom fighters, they have established Units of Resistance.”
“The Arch Nemesis of Women”
Mrs. Rajavi then discussed some of the recent developments in Iran. She mentioned Khamenei’s recent appointment of a member of the infamous Death Committee of Tehran to the position of Judiciary Chief. Khamenei’s pick for the head of the Ministry of Justice was one of the primary perpetrators of the 1988 Massacre of 30,000 political prisoners, most of whom were MEK members. Many of those who were executed were women.
She also discussed high unemployment rates among Iranian women and the regime’s failure to address the issue. She spoke about child marriages, which have created epidemic rates of homelessness, drug addiction, prostitution, and poverty amongst the women of Iran.
She noted the misogynistic policy of policing women’s clothing, saying that thousands of women were arrested, harassed, and intimidated last year for “mal-veiling.”
Mrs. Rajavi went on to say that the regime is
“the arch nemesis of women and the primary obstacle against freedom and equality. Therefore, as a first step, any struggle and movement for freedom and equality go through the overthrow of the religious tyranny.”
Solidarity through Sisterhood
She further emphasized that the women of Iran hold the key to ending the mullahs’ rule and creating an Iran where women can be treated as equals. She said,
“The main force to defeat the ruling religious dictatorship is the Iranian women, who have borne the brunt of the injustices and have the highest degree of motivation to overthrow the regime.”
Rajavi stressed that in order to achieve this goal, Iranian women must unite as sisters. “Every woman’s talents and potentials can be realized to the highest extent only through solidarity with her sisters,” she said.
“When individual action evolves into collective action, facing barriers becomes easier. So, each one of us can advance ahead and be effective to the extent that we avoid abandoning our sisters. We need to have more women in our ranks.”
Mrs. Rajavi discussed the importance of changing women’s beliefs about themselves and their role in society in order to affect change. She said,
“We have to struggle for not only what is possible, but what must be. And on this path, shifting the mindset and dislodging of women’s own beliefs is a significant and extremely imperative step.”
She went on to say, “Rising up, searching for new values and discovering the potentials of the self and others in a collective effort and struggle supplies the roadmap for the struggle for freedom and equality. she added:
“In the struggle against gender discrimination and while vindicating the assumption of responsibility and demonstrating the capabilities of Iranian women, female Mojahedin of the Iranian Resistance have successfully overcome many challenges and traversed a long path. They have learned and proven that women as a collective, joined together, have extraordinary abilities.”
Mrs. Rajavi stressed that women were not meant to live as second-class citizens. “Women have not been born to submit to intimidation, injustice, and exploitation,” she said. “They can and they must change the world in accordance with the ideal of equality.”
“The Future Will Be Shaped in Your Hands”
Mrs.Rajavi concluded her speech with a stirring call to action and the promise of a brighter future under the leadership of the Iranian Resistance and the MEK.
“It is time to organize,” she said. “Turn your pains, suffering, tears, and yearning into a force of struggle and progress. The future will be shaped in your hands and in your units of resistance and resistance councils.”
She called on women to resist the regime’s laws on compulsory veiling, urged them to support children and women street vendors, and to “actively participate at every location where the flames of resistance and protests are burning.”
Rajavi further encouraged women to rebel against the patriarchal regime. “Stand up to the mullahs, who promote lack of trust, hopelessness, hostility and divisiveness in society in a coordinated and organized manner. They want to tell the Iranian people that nothing works, nothing matters, the situation will become worse, and so we must submit and adapt to the status quo. It is up to you, brave and aware sisters, to defeat this evil policy. It is up to you to rebel against the culture of surrender and it is up to you to cultivate solidarity, compassion, friendship and trust among our people,” she urged.
As the leader of the Iranian Resistance, Mrs. Rajavi reminded the audience that the NCRI and MEK have shown a decisive commitment to the cause of gender equality in its fight for democracy and freedom and that it is a strong advocate for the elimination of all factors that contribute to the inability of women to participate as equal citizens in a free Iran.
Equality in a Free Society
Rajavi then enumerated the rights that should be available to all women in a free society, as described in her ten-point plan for Iran’s future and the MEK’s political platform:
“Women from any ethnicity, religion or social class, regardless of their age or place of residence, must enjoy equal rights with men in all economic, social and political arenas.
“Women are free to choose their place of residence, their occupation, and education. They have a right to freely choose their spouse, to freely travel, to exit the country, to divorce, and to have custody over their children.
“Belief in a certain faith, religion or persuasion must not lead to humiliation of any woman or prevention of their access to employment opportunities, educational opportunities or seeking justice.
“Women should be able to enjoy protection by the law equal to men.
“Women should enjoy equal rights with men when it comes to seeking justice. Women must have freedom of choice for selecting their attire. The compulsory veiling law must be abolished; and it will be abolished.
“Women must particularly have the right to equal participation in the society’s political leadership.
“Women must enjoy equal rights with men in receiving inheritance and engaging in contracts and management of financial assets.
“When it comes to employment, women must have equal opportunities with men and they must receive equal pay and benefits for equal work.
“Polygamy must be banned and marriage below the legal age will not be permitted.
“And, women must enjoy equal rights to have and retain all fundamental human rights and freedoms.”