Source: The Feminist School (translated by Azita Erani)
The 3rd session of the Green Activists of Women's Movement held in Tehran, coincided with the 104th anniversary of Iran's Constitutional Revolution. The session comprised of representatives of various ethnicities within the women's movement; included speeches on topics ranging from women's role in the Constitution to the more current issues such as the continued incarceration of political activists and their concern for the 17 prisoners on a hunger strike. Also a statement was issued for the occasion of this anniversary of the Constitutional Revolution; the details of which are as follows:
From the onset of the Constitutional movement though today, the challenging interaction between the women's movement and the social democratic movements, has played a vital role for women.
The history of Women's Movement shows that the level of women's influence on larger social movements, considering their strength and formation, as well as the influence of our slogans of 'gender equality'; has engendered different views in public opinion. Women, while cooperating, for the most part, have demanded their rights from the inside and through these movements; although in the end, each movement has reaped different results, depending on the degree of power and the main foundation of its founder.
A cursory review of the last 100 years proves that the meaning of "people" inherent in the main slogan of the national democratic movements - focused on limiting the "absolute power" and increasing "power of the people" - has changed with time. Over the last century, women's fight, struggle and sacrifices have gradually deflated some of the heavy air of gender bias and male supremacy inherent in the meaning of "People"; to the extent that today women, as components of "People", are able to partake in democratic movements. In fact, the advent of the Constitutional Movement, helped coin the first sparkles of terms such "Citizenship" and "Women's Membership" in the "People". This is the reason why the Constitutional Movement holds such a special importance for the Women's Movement.
The Constitutional Movement was the gateway for women's independent entry into the society through the Education system. Women gained literacy rights as one of the main civil rights; followed by "assembly" and writing and publishing periodicals, which despite tensions between the conservatives and the progressives, became a reality. Nevertheless, when it comes to women's civil rights in the political arena, the majority of the progressives and even pockets of women join the conservatives in prohibition of women's right to vote.
Women's movement over the last one hundred years, has experienced many peaks and valleys, yet continues its steady and calm journey, alongside many progressive and feminist men. During the Constitutional Movement, women were only the subjects of tension between progressive and conservative men and it was up to men to decide whether or not women should be bestowed any kind of rights. But today, it is women who through their Green Movement stand as sources of inspiration and creators of democratic slogans and vital components of this movement.
From the days of the Constitutional Movement when Bibi khanoom, one of the founders of the Girls School in Iran, enclosed her head scarf with a letter written to the Parliament: "Either you save the Constitution or wear my scarf !!!"; to today's Green Movement where progressive and democratic men voluntarily wear women's head scarves in order to show the backward men, that they find no difference between themselves and the women. And from the days of the Constitutional Movement when women were forced to choose their representatives and spokespersons among men; to today's Green Democratic Movement, women's movement has achieved such legitimacy and gained such prominence so as to elevate its representatives to the heights of leadership within the Democratic Movement, and demanding its rights from an equal podium in the social and political arena. This movement has been on a long road replete with struggle and fight and sacrifices made by an enormous body of steadfast women of all groups and backgrounds: Teachers, Nurses, Secretaries, Homemakers, Journalists, Scholars, and, and...
We can say that the seeds of demanding equality and freedom planted over a century ago during the Constitutional Movement, today on one hand, through the efforts of civil rights and women's rights activists; and on the other through the social, political and economic changes, have grown into an influential and legitimate element in the society that absent the women, the word "People" bears no meaning; and as part of "gender awareness" [equal civil rights for equal genders], the seeds have turned into a subconscious gender neutral society and the forces opposing equality, not only within the Green Movement, but also within the government, have all but lost their last vestiges of legitimacy to the degree where they can only impose their anti-woman laws and regulations through violence.
But despite all this progress, there is a serious concern that any and all social progress is stopped and on a path of regression, as history has shown that at every juncture of major progress, the danger of returning to the past is made possible by resorting to violence and a 'frozen atmosphere." Our history and the world history shows that any time violence and war have become the means for settling disputes, be it locally or globally, first and foremost it is women who bear the brunt of the destructive outcome and all civil movements are pushed to the wayside.
Therefore, we the activists of the Green Convergence of Women's Movement, on this 104th anniversary of the Constitutional Revolution, in consideration of the experiences of our maternal ancestors during the Constitutional Revolution, by our large and diverse gathering here announce that with a focus on women's rights, we are committed to a collaborative, creative and effective partnership with other peaceful, non-violent, result oriented and democratic movements.
In consideration of the experiences of our grand mothers during the nationalization of oil, we are committing ourselves to a new meaning of nationalism that embraces modernity and internal multiplicity that can accept and reflect the equal presence and participation of all Iranians from every ethnicity, religion, language and gender, and one that will fully respect every cultural tradition and will not oppose modernity and cultural diversity.
In consideration of the experiences of our mothers during the revolution of 1357 (1979), we commit ourselves to the active participation of women of all persuasions and styles, in the public arena. And in opposition to all discriminatory laws, we commit to upholding and defense of women's equal rights and civil rights. In consideration of the experiences of our young girls who are anxiously awaiting a chance to participate in all economic, social and political areas of their country, but suffering from unemployment and the prospects of a bleak future and inability to partake in social or economic affairs and on the other hand surrounded by a host of social threats such as poverty, prostitution, suicide, and addiction; commit ourselves to the revival of their social and economic rights. Every day, a new excuse such as cutting women's working hours, is delivered in order to drive women out of the work force, and the economic arena; making their lives even more difficult, resulting in more inflation and unemployment and closure of industrial units and destruction of agriculture and increased social damages and lower standards for living and health of women and children.
In consideration of our sisters' experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq, and other war ravaged nations, we commit to the path of non-violence on all levels of social, political, national arena and the illegitimating of war and violence in all international relations. We firmly believe that the cultivation of a culture of communication in the public arena, rather than a culture of elimination and animosity in settling disputes on a national level and international level, instead of polarizing the global atmosphere and making war and sanctions and saber rattling of nations can be the most effective and least costly way of resolving conflict and also women's and the nation's progress.
In consideration of our sisters' experiences on the global level, we declare a sisterhood with all women across the globe; who have been subjected to violence. We know... of the suffering of the Afghan woman, the pain of the Palestinian woman, the white and the colored freedom lover American woman, the European, the African... We have felt with our skin and bone, the pain of all women in the world who are violated and killed for ideologies. Not for the war between Islam and the infidel, or the war of civilizations or religions, but they become victims of brutal powers that in order to prolong their reign of power, invent imaginary wars and create hate mongering ideologies made up of people's religious faith or non-religious beliefs and their economic hardship and poverty, which women and children are always the main victims of.
In conclusion, summoning our three decades of experience in our shared ideologies, campaigns, and gatherings of women's movement, most particularly the Green Convergence of Women's Movement, with an emphasis on the independence of the Women's Movement, and our demands for women's rights and dues at this historical juncture, we believe that the informed presence of social and civil movements such as the women's, students, teachers, Ethnic groups, workers unions, journalists, youth, etc. in cooperation and solidarity with the Green Movement, not in order to unite all their views and beliefs and identities of all the activists of these groups and not meant to make them abandon their ideals and desires and methodologies. In fact, this Green unity is strengthened by its diversity and encourages multiplying of the groups which can serve as the most important element and the strongest fortress in stopping the dictatorship-making mechanisms and the uniformity of nations.
Undoubtedly, all these only reflect our very basic and broad overviews which portray our struggles and worries as well as, our dreams and commitments on this anniversary of the Constitutional Revolution that also symbolizes the growth of the women's movement in Iran. We are aware that today, not only there are various groups of women who are working hard with their limited means, to remedy our struggles, but also pockets of individual women who independently and on their own, are highly active in the movement; all focused on finding solutions and fulfilling a common dream, have created a strong but not centralized network of women in the nation. We here consider ourselves to be but a small part of this vast sea of a movement and the tireless network of women, some of which organized, some not, but all strong and determined. Despite all this, the ability and power of the Women's Movement with all its diversity and vastness, is still limited; but as they say dreaming for a young movement, such as ours, is a good thing, not something to be ashamed of.
The Green Convergence:
Third Session of Iranian Women's Movement Gathering
The third session of the "Green Convergence of Women's Movement of Iran" was held in Tehran on Thursday marking the anniversary of the Constitutional Revolution with women from a spectrum of the women's movement in attendance. - 8/6/10
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