NCRI WOMEN'S COMMITTEE

Works extensively with Iranian women outside the country and maintains a permanent contact with women inside Iran. The Women’s Committee is actively involved with many women's rights organizations and NGO's and the Iranian diaspora. The committee is a major source of much of the information received from inside Iran with regards to women. Attending UN Human Rights Commission meetings and other international or regional conferences on women’s issues, and engaging in a relentless battle against the Iranian regime's misogyny are part of the activities of members and associates of the committee.

On the eve of the International Women’s Day, a grand meeting entitled “Women in Political Leadership” was held in Tirana, Albania.

 

 

The ceremony featured the Iranian Resistance's President-elect Maryam Rajavi as the keynote speaker as well as a number of distinguished politicians, personalities and women's rights activists from different countries who addressed the conference and declared solidarity with the Iranian Resistance and its pioneering women.

The presence of a group of 1000 Iranian Resistance's women who resisted 14 years in camps Ashraf and Liberty in this IWD ceremony was the focal point of attention and speeches in this conference.

 

In addition to speeches, the IWD celebration also featured musical performances and documentary video clips on the plight of Iranian women and their 150-year struggle for freedom.

 

 

Maryam Rajavi

Iranian Resistance's President-elect

Excerpts of remarks at IWD conference – Tirana, 2017

 

Please allow me to explain in this regard a special experience of the Iranian Resistance.

In the 1990s, we faced the issue of women's leadership on various levels which changed the organizational structure of our movement. Our women had stepped into a path that had no previous precedent or examples in the past. So, they decided to remove anything that bore any sign of inequality, anything that ignored women or obstructed their collective participation, and built new relations in their stead…

The main question is how did they overcome the customs and traditions deeply entrenched through thousands of years, and how did they manage to carry on and move forward. The truth is that, this transformation since its inception in our movement, did not aim to simply switch the leadership roles of women and men.

The experience of women's leadership in our movement became possible with the role that men played as pioneers of this new world.

These liberated men formed new collective relations among themselves. They eagerly and passionately defended the cause of women's equality everywhere and endorsed their leadership. They created new values and ethics based on honesty, self-sacrifice, and giving priority to others.

 

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Sarvnaz Chitsaz

Chair of the NCRI Women’s Committee

Excerpts of remarks at IWD conference – Tirana, 2017

 

I am very pleased and honored that we are celebrating this International Women’s Day in the presence of my dear sisters, the one thousand heroines and also among our brothers. Reuniting with all of you in here, is just amazing. You are powerful and determined to follow up the cause of our beloved homeland and establishing democracy and equality there.

There was a time when the prospects were too grim and there was no light at the end of the tunnel. It seemed there was no hope. However, someone told us that, “We can and we must” and you proved this with your glorious perseverance and the incredible epics you created in Ashraf and Liberty. I am proud of you all.

 

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Linda Chavez

Former White House director of the Office of Public Liaison and Chair of the Center for Equal Opportunity

Excerpts of remarks at IWD conference – Tirana, 2017

 

I must tell you, this is an extremely humbling experience.

There is no measure of joy that describes the joy of seeing all of you here safe, no longer under attacks by rockets, no longer everyday wondering whether or not you would have clean water and health facilities but here, safe and sound.

The fact is you are here but there is much to overcome and you are the very people who can lead the Iranian people and overcome the oppression that has been a fact of life in Iran for decades now.

Under the leadership of Madam Rajavi, you are the future of Iran.

What you stand for are the very ideals of liberty and freedom and democracy that all human beings want for themselves and which will in fact be the best guarantor of peace throughout the world.

What Madam Rajavi has put together in her ten point plan which calls for an independent judiciary, freedom of the press, absolute equality between men and women, a separation of religion from the state; all of these things are the necessary building blocks of democracy and freedom.

 

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Ingrid Betancourt

Former senator and presidential candidate - Colombia

 

Excerpts of remarks at IWD conference – Tirana, 2017

 

As I was looking at you from my seat I was thinking in all those years. That we have been getting together for the 8 of March to celebrate women's day. And our hearts were broken because we were talking to you and you were not with us.

So, you see today, we're celebrating Women's Day. And we're celebrating leadership in women. But I have to tell you we're far beyond women leadership. Today, what we are celebrating is you: Women of Courage. You are our heroes.

And all those stories that you have told me that I cannot summarize today, all the things that you didn't tell me that are in your heart, those are the things that have to be written because they are the legends that will be told in future generations in Iran …

 

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Iveta Radicova

 

The first woman Prime Minister of Slovakia and former Minister of Defense and Labour

Excerpts of remarks at IWD conference – Tirana, 2017

And this is my experience from my own country from our Europe.

I think that we need to take three very important steps.  And this is my experience from my own country from our Europe.

The first step is to change the regime from dictatorship to democracy. That’s true. The second step is to create a really democratic government, democratic structures, and democratic free elections. And you have a good leader to do it.

And then is the most complicated step, when you have the power. You are democratically elected and you have to implement human rights on all levels of social life.

It means that we need to implement and promote three basic moral principles of human beings. First is tolerance.

The second moral principle is trust.

And last, solidarity.

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Rita Süssmuth

Former President of the German Bundestag

Excerpts of solidarity message to IWD conference – Tirana, 2017

 

It’s today, women’s day. Where? In Albania, exactly in Tirana, in a free country with a young democracy. And what was the biggest surprise? This young democracy with so many challenges and obligations surprised all of us (by) fighting for the liberation of Iranian refugees at Ashraf, later on, at Camp Liberty near Baghdad….

We are not at the end of our long way but we will continue. Working with her for separation of religion and politics, and inspiring people to look in the right direction. What can we do for better life for all human beings? Look at what is happening in these days. Iranians are protesting against a lack of protection of environment. We saw these slogans, “don’t kill”. This time it is not a political killing; it is killing by a bad environment, being threatened by the poison in the air…

And it is our duty, it is our human obligation - with all the challenges and the threatening conditions we have today - to stand up and to fight against them.

Not in a kind of confrontation, not in threatening other people but by winning them. Winning them for change of thinking and acting. It’s difficult, it’s hard, it’s full of resistance in both sides but believe me it’s possible.

Change is possible. Not everything is possible but people, human beings, can change much more than they believe they could undertake.

And so, I finish my short speech by welcoming you and let's say we belong together and we fight together not with weapons but with our spirit, our mentality and our encouraging hope for human life.

 

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Najima Thay Thay,

Former Minister of Education – Morocco

Excerpts of remarks at IWD conference – Tirana, 2017

 

 

I congratulate you on the International Women’s Day and the fact that you have elected a woman to be your political leader. This is very invaluable. You have stood against a fundamentalist religious dictatorship that has suppressed women for four decades. Tens of thousands of women have sacrificed their lives in this path but they have also achieved considerable achievements in their movement in the realm of gender equality.

My brothers and sisters,

Your power is not only that you are freedom fighters. You are resisting while you are seeking no personal interests in Iran. You want Iran to be independent. You fight to bring freedom, honor and democracy to your country.

Definitely, the Iranian people would never find any leader better than Maryam Rajavi.

 

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Senator Evelyne Yonnet

Member of the French Senate

Excerpts of remarks at IWD conference – Tirana, 2017

 

 

You are opposing a hardliner regime that uses religion as a tool to create fear and terrorize people, put them behind the bars and even kill them.

Your struggle is admirable. I can tell you that the entire world is watching you. While the world is moving in a dangerous direction, other oppressed women can find an opportunity to move and you serve as a model for them.

 

 

 

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Amparo Fuertes

Women's rights Activist – Spain

Excerpts of remarks at IWD conference – Tirana, 2017

 

(My daughter) Gloria is aware now that the tale I told her eight years ago is the painful everyday life for the Iranian people. And she figured to grow up and also contribute to your undertaking.

When she was a baby she expected a happy end for this story, the happy ending that I could not give to her then.

Today, in this afternoon of Women's Day and the celebration of Women's Day with all of you, I can picture for her what the end will be, thanks to the long and unbearable sacrifice of the women of the Iranian resistance.

An Iran where women will choose freely their attire, religion and career; where they will see their dignity respected; where they will be judges, presidents of the republic, or housewives according to their rights; where they finally will be granted all their rights as citizens and human beings, and the best of it all, is that this will no longer be a fantasy but a bright and tangible reality.

 

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Sekai Masikana Holland

Former senator and Minister of National Healing Reconciliation and Integration – Zimbabwe

Excerpts of remarks at IWD conference – Tirana, 2017

 

To you, the one thousand members of the Iranian resistance who are here, and the 2000 men who have come here I would really like to say you are such a great inspiration and we will build on what you have actually gained. The victorious relocation from Camp Liberty to Tirana is because of the resistance of members of the movement, the fourteen-year-old leadership of women at Ashraf and Liberty, and President-elect Mrs. Rajavi, her courage is solution….

I would like to express our solidarity as the stalwart of the old anti-apartheid movement without which we would not be free today, in southern Africa…

I want to say while the anti-apartheid movement was inspirational; your movement is actually even more inspirational because it is building on a higher level of this struggle…

I think it’s very healing because of the way that you have organized yourselves. And I want to conclude by saying, this is really the next phase for the movement of solidarity. I think that I want to say we stand with you Madam President-elect Mrs. Maryam Rajavi. Truth has long legs, (it is an) African saying. Lies have short legs. Mrs. Rajavi you not only speak with truth, you reflect the truth.

I know that we will meet in Iran, sooner than later under your presidency.

 

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Julie Girling

Member of the European Parliament from the UK

 Excerpts of remarks at IWD conference – Tirana, 2017

 

My principal interest is the struggle for equality and respect for women all over the world. So, I was very happy to accept the kind invitation to come here today to your conference for International Women’s Day. 

Women are a positive voice for change. They all need our support. So I'm going to go away from here today having enjoyed this amazing feeling here. It is very uplifting to see how committed you all are under the enormously difficult circumstances that you have all experienced... And I'm going to bottle that little bit of feeling and take it away with me and try and make sure that certainly in my country and in the rest of the European Union people listen and people join you and help you and I hope as others have said to be there on the day when you're able to go back to Tehran.

 

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Senator Stefania Pezzopane

Member of the Italian Senate

Excerpts of remarks at IWD conference – Tirana, 2017

 

I have always been worried and upset about the situation of women in the Middle East.

Your experience has always had my admiration. You are a point of reliance even for us as Italian women and for myself as an Italian senator.

The women of Iran have been struggling for long years for their freedom. Iranian women are among the most intellectual and the most educated women in the region. They are strongly against religious dictatorship and this why they are suppressed.

This is very important to us that the group which is opposing the religious tyranny is a Muslim force led by women. Having Maryam Rajavi at the helms of the Iranian Resistance and her political platform for a free Iran based on pluralism has a clear message for the Iranian people that the alternative to this regime not only will end oppression against women but will be a model of gender equality in the World of Islam and the Middle East.

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Concetta Giallombardo

Attorney, President of the Association of Female Jurists from Italy

Excerpts of remarks at IWD conference – Tirana, 2017

 

Women's inferiority has been institutionalized in the Iranian regime's laws and is implemented through continuous violent monitoring. In such circumstances, many Iranian women show resistance and pay a high price for it. They are incarcerated in prisons and unfairly prosecuted. This is a clear example that these women have a profoundly democratic view of social and political life. These women are witnesses and carriers of this outlook not only for the Iranian society but also for the world as a clear example of co-existence.

The situation of human rights is not suitable in Iran and there are flagrant discriminations against women. However, even in many of our western societies, there are tendencies to marginalize women and there are patriarchal defiance attempting to obstruct realization of equal opportunities…

This is why we must share in and participate in the Iranian women's struggle to achieve their rights. So, we have to teach our sons and daughters that they must resist, and resist, and resist. When a woman rises up to gain her rights, even if she is not aware of it, she has risen up for the rights of all women. I thank Mme. President Maryam Rajavi for including equality of women and men in her government's platform. I hope that this platform can be implemented in Iran, as soon as possible.

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Laurence Fehlmann Rielle

Member of the Swiss Parliament

Excerpts of remarks at IWD conference – Tirana, 2017

 

Despite civil repression and discrimination against women in Iran, they have played a role in the resistance against the regime. Women in Iran are defying the theocratic regime in every aspect such as their social life in universities, in the work places, and so on.

But the most remarkable aspect of Iranian women's defiance of the regime is their participation in the resistance. You can be very proud that some 52 percent of the National Council of Resistance of Iran are women. By comparison, if you see Switzerland which is a so-called developed country, we are only 32 percent represented in the parliament.

 

 

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Eva Duran Ramos

Former Member of Parliament of Spain and president of Popular Party in Puente de Vallecas

Excerpts of remarks at IWD conference – Tirana, 2017

 

This year, I came here with all my feelings. And I am happy that I came here and I am here. And I hope that the people of Iran will achieve freedom with Mrs. Rajavi.

You want and you can achieve this.

I hope that one day, like today when it is the International Women's Day, you can hold this ceremony in your valuable country of Iran. I wish that that day would arrive sooner. We will be by your side until we can celebrate this day together in a free and democratic Iran. 

I wish that you would succeed in establishing such a free country.

And this is why I am here today, to say that I am with you.

 

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Margarita Durán Vadell

Former member of Senate from Spain

Excerpts of remarks at IWD conference – Tirana, 2017

 

The person, I met in Paris in March 2013 was a strong woman, a leader able to maintain the hope, the aims and the courage of her people on this long painful and hard road to freedom... 

Since that day, I have worked for their safety and always supported through the difficult days. I have worried about them in the attacks and I have mobilized my efforts as soon as I heard about their situation and difficulties and I have joined this movement with my other colleagues.

This engagement has firmly continued for these four years throughout my time in the Spanish Senate and now as a human rights activist and, especially, as a friend.

With other members of the Spanish Parliament and the Senate we have denounced the attacks against Camp Liberty and we have requested an independent international investigation about these attacks. We asked for the refugees in Camp Liberty to be sent back to Camp Ashraf, their home of twenty-six years. We asked as well for a permanent blue helmet team at Camp Liberty. And if the international community could not protect the refugees in Camp Liberty, we requested that they be given the opportunity to leave the camp and be given asylum in democratic countries. Now, despite the suffering and despite the difficulties, their departure from Iraq became a reality. Thanks to all these people who made it possible. All my gratitude to Albanian people. As for me, believe me, I will continue to stand by you until Iran is free.

 

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Sevim Arbana

Activist of the Democratic Movement in Albania and founder of Useful to Albanian Women

Excerpts of remarks at IWD conference – Tirana, 2017

 

I am the head of a Peace Advocacy Committee and we have ratified a declaration that invites all the countries of the world to sign it, in order to put an end to wars and establish peace. It might seem like an illusion, but it is not; it’s a strategy, a plan and we should work with a plan in order to walk together towards a peaceful world, because we only live once and we should live in peace….

Because of the job that I have, it happens that I cry and rebel every day, because I work with the poorest people, with those who suffer. I cried a lot when I listened to the stories of Iranian women. But now I don’t cry anymore. I want to be strong, because only in this way we will be able to change the situation. If we join together to fight not only for the 8th  of March, but to tell the world that we are here, then we would celebrate a different 8th of March in a free Tehran.

 

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Diana Culi

Writer and journalist, politician and former representative of Albania at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

Excerpts of remarks at IWD conference – Tirana, 2017

 

It has happened many times that an Albanian friend has asked me why I was this attached to the cause of Iranian women, to those who live in exile, but even to those who live within the Iranian state borders. My answer was: For many reasons.

As a person who has a long history of activism in women’s rights, the flagrant violation of women’s basic rights in Iran, discrimination, extreme inequality and the absence of social security from which Iranian women suffer, attracted my attention. 73 women have been executed in Iran only during 2013 -2017, for ideological reasons, meaning because of extreme male chauvinism, conservatism and fanaticism. The two last women were executed last January.

As we heard, women in Iran are not only allowed to sing at concerts, but they are beaten up when they try to celebrate the 8th of March. The laws approved recently, force young girls, under 15 or even under 10 years old, to marry. They can’t control their own lives, but they are conscious of the situation.

They are women of a great nation, with an ancient civilization and history, but they suffer from religious fanaticism, oppression. And no religious, ideological or political, or even patriotic reason exists that can justify the oppression of women in any country of the world.

 

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Drita Ayduli

Lawyer and women's rights activist

Excerpts of remarks at IWD conference – Tirana, 2017

 

I was one of the first people who met your people when you came from Iraq. The stories I heard from your people, of your resistance and the missile attacks on your camp made me admire your dedication to the cause of freedom for your country. It was especially interesting for me to see so many women among you who had been in the Iranian regime's prisons and then in Iraq and they had a long history of struggle for freedom of their country. I am glad that our small country had a big heart to let all of your people in.

We, too, have a long story of struggle against dictatorship and we understand what you and your people are going through. I hope that this humanitarian effort on the part of Albania will set a model and example of humanity for the world in this century.

 

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Bahareh Baraii

Member of the PMOI Central Council

Excerpts of remarks at IWD conference – Tirana, 2017

 

We learned that we power comes from all of us, not from individual talents or characters, and this is what makes us powerful.

In this path, we learned not to fear great responsibilities, but undertake them by relying on one another. We learned not to fear failures, but turn each of them into an experience for the next success. We learned that loving and giving blazes our way forward....

In Ashraf and Liberty, we saw numerous beauties and we learned how much a human being can be steadfast, how much she can love and give and how much she can change herself and change her environment. We can and we must write our own destiny towards ultimate victory...

When you see a beautiful painting, you instinctively look for the signature of the painter. That who taught us to be a human being before being a woman and to believe that we can and we must change. She taught us that more than individual power, it is our group that is authentic. She taught us not to break in the face of hardships and defeats, but learn a lesson from our failures, get up and continue until victory. She taught us that fear is not a genuine feeling, but our effort to fight and stand up. She taught us that when everyone and everything tells us that we will be destroyed, we can and we must roar and achieve victory.

And now, we will use all our experiences to free Iran and free the women of Iran. We will never forget our friends who were slain in Ashraf and Liberty, but will fight on a hunderd times more to rid the people of Iran and particularly Iranian women and girls from the evil of the fundamentalist regime.

By relying on Maryam Rajavi's motto, "We can and we must", we are confident that Iran will be free. 

 

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Sima Bagherzadeh

Member of the PMOI Central Council

Excerpts of remarks at IWD conference – Tirana, 2017

 

All the freedom-loving people of the world and specifically women have endeavored for centuries to realize the cause of gender equality. Despite remarkable advancements and progresses made by women, the glass ceiling is still in place and thick walls of disbelief have imprisoned this cause as in a cage.

But we have another experience. We have seen someone who, by having faith in this cause and the power of human beings, has created new, stable relationships based on equality and humanity....

The beauty of this outlook is not in the emancipation of women and flourishing of their energies, alone, but in the participation of men who have thrown away everything they had learned from patriarchal history. They do not think of what they can have for themselves. In this path, they have shattered the false myth of inequality and paved the way shoulder to shoulder with PMOI women for the cause of freedom and equality.

And now, our country has got to know the names of 1,000 women who do not want anything for themselves. We have learned that we always have something to give. We have learned that our human dignity is in looking at all human beings as equals and giving to them equally, even if we do not know their names. We, women, are dedicated to the cause of equality and vow to uproot the Velayat-e Faqih dictatorship and establish freedom and equality.

 

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MESSAGES OF SOLIDARITY TO THE CONFERENCE:

Dr. Ranjana Kumari

Director of the Centre for Social Research - India

Excerpts of message of solidarity to the IWD 2017 gathering, "Women in Political Leadership"

 

I am with you because I believe in democratic rights and I know freedom is something that you will achieve for your people. I believe that we have to unite to topple injustice and dictators. You have paid a heavy price for almost over decades to reach this final victory. I will never stop defending the women of Iran, the courageous girls and women who have been in the forefront since the beginning of the tyranny. We send our respect to all the women fallen for freedom and together we work to see democracy in Iran.

On this International Women's Day, I would like to send my greetings and greetings of the Indian people to the struggling men and women of Iran.

 

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María Teresa Fernández de la Vega

First woman deputy Prime Minister of Spain, director of the Foundation Women for Africa (Mujeres por África)

Excerpts of message of solidarity to the IWD 2017 gathering, "Women in Political Leadership"

 

I believe that with your struggle you will succeed to realize the citizens' rights for women and everyone in your country. Equality is useful for everyone and it spreads dignity and freedom for all, all over the world.

In the face of so much vengeance, intolerance and antipathy towards foreigners, the world needs courageous, democratic women who advocate women's rights. And the National Council of Resistance of Iran has fulfilled this need.

Dear friends,

I encourage you to continue your advancements and struggle to achieve your goals. We, all the democrats, are on your side. We know that pluralism, respect for men and women's rights are the only guarantee for progress and peace for all the world's citizens.

 

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Maria Candida Almeida

Deputy Attorney General – Portugal

Excerpts of message of solidarity to the IWD 2017 gathering, "Women in Political Leadership"

 

I am with you in spirit, sharing with you the hope of democracy, equality and freedom for your people.

Mrs. Rajavi is a great and strong leader. I believe with her strength and courage, (she) will lead you to victory over the misogynist regime (which has) no respect for human rights.

I am with you in our struggle for human dignity, human rights and equality.

 

 

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