Revolution #226, March 8, 2011

The following statement is from the Campaign for Abolition of All Misogynist Gender Based Legislation & Islamic Punitive Laws in Iran:

On the centennial anniversary of International women's day

The overthrow of Iran's Islamic Republic is the first step towards women's emancipation in our country

A hundred years ago on the 8th of March 1911, International Women’s Day was celebrated for the first time. Since then, every year on this day, women around the world take to the streets to protest against social, political and economic inequalities and to oppose unjust conditions imposed on them. Patriarchal capitalist systems throughout the world have constantly opposed women’s struggles as they consider women’s awareness and self-organization a threat to their existence.

We women must defend our achievements and celebrate progress made so far in many aspects of our lives. However, we are well aware that women still face varied forms of gender oppression. Organized state violence and domestic violence are full-scale wars waged by the bourgeoisie against women in order to force obedience of the existing norms in society and harness protest and revolutionary potential. Unequal pay, commodification of women's bodies, enforcing anti-women legislation and reinforcing patriarchal culture in the society, intervention of religion in politics, rapes in prisons or during wars, the pressure of housework and absence of any kind of unemployment and retirement benefits are all striking signs of gender-based injustices in the 21st century.

This year the global financial crisis of the capitalist system has given rise to a huge wave of protests against international capital. On one side, despotism, discriminating laws, dictatorships, growing unemployment and poverty and on the other visions of a more decent life and basic expectations specially by the youth (demanding employment, freedom, equality, freedom of choice) have caused a wave of street protests around the world including the Middle East and North Africa. These protests are spreading every day into more countries. Some call these the riots demonstrations 'caused by hunger’, but these masses are not just hungry. They have become conscious of their rights as human beings and they no longer want to put up with slavery and despotism, that is why they are standing up in unity in support of the demands of the toiling masses to say a strong NO to a system that allows multitudes of oppressions and exploitations in the society. Women in these societies are the most oppressed layer. Patriarchal culture, religion and capital hand-in-hand have created painful and intolerable conditions for women in these societies.

People’s uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, especially the significant presence of women in these uprisings herald historic changes in the Middle East and the world. The continuation of these uprisings can change all the equations on a global level. Women in Egypt and Tunisia are aware of the causes of their oppression because of women like Nawal Al-sa’dawi in Egypt and secular activists in Tunisia. In these two countries individual and collective struggles of secular conscious women has played an important role in the ongoing struggles and their success. Women in Tunisia have declared their opposition to theological government and have protested against the new proposed constitution that favors men within a patriarchal structure. An important indicator, identifying the direction of these struggles is how much women’s issues and demands are represented.

Over the last 30 years Iranian women have experienced enslaving conditions under the rule of the Islamic Republic. A regime supported by the capitalist states and the imperialists. Our message to progressive and freedom-loving forces throughout the world and especially in the Middle East where people have risen up against their political systems is to stand against any involvement of religion in the affairs of the state and we say this so that our sisters avoid the plight of Iranian women who have suffered from this intervention for three decades. We must not allow world capitalist forces to replace revolutionary alternatives with their own reactionary alternatives in these countries. The protesting masses must not allow imperialists to interfere in their internal affairs and they cannot allow stone-age fundamentalist forces to control the outcome of their uprising.

We Iranian women didn’t clearly formulate our demands during the 1979 revolution that overthrew the Shah’s regime. We were just part of a bigger mass movement without our own clear demands or slogans. We didn’t have our own organizations. Neither we nor the progressive forces involved in the revolution realized that it was not enough to topple the Shah's regime, we did not pay enough attention to the government that was replacing it . After the collapse of Shah’s regime, women’s demands and issues were forgotten and in fact the situation of women in Iranian society got worse. Women were the first victims of the Islamic regime after it came to power. The consequence was 32 years of brutal suppression of our gender inside Iran. Middle Eastern women should be aware of this so that they do not to repeat our mistake. Over the last 32 years the Iranian women have been fighting for the separation of religion and the state, against forced Hejab and all misogynist laws and Islamic punishments. We will continue our struggles until the overthrow of the Islamic Republic as the first step towards our emancipation.

Let’s not allow the imperialists and the reactionaries of the region to divert revolutionary uprisings so that they can impose their retrograde anti-women alternatives on the peoples of the region under the pretext of “change”.

Iranian women are determined that after the overthrow of the Islamic Republic they will continue their struggles along with all other radical movements in the society to build a system where women’s emancipation is a priority, a system where oppression and exploitation are eradicated.

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, we congratulate all the women and freedom-loving people who fight for gender equality and women’s rights.

The Campaign for abolition of all misogynist gender based legislation & Islamic punitive laws in Iran

8 March 2011

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