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October 7, 2009

Ebadi: ‘Iran’s women are not afraid’

In a column published in the UK’s Guardian, human rights attorney and Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi declares unequivocally that Iran’s women are strong in their convictions and unafraid of facing an oppressive government. Excerpts are below but the full column can be read here.

Iran today is a country where women are more educated than their male compatriots; more than 60% of university students are female, as are many university professors.
In governments, women have often held senior positions. Even the health minister in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s cabinet is a woman. All this is proof that women have managed to rise within the ranks of the fundamentalists.
And yet despite the cultural, social and historical heritage of Iranian women, the Islamic Republic has imposed discriminatory regulations against them.

She then proceeds to outline how the cards are stacked against women but states:

The laws imposed on Iranian women are incompatible with their status and, consequently, the equality movement is very strong. Although lacking a leader, headquarters, or branches, the movement is located in the home of any Iranian who believes in equal rights for men and women.

Ebadi also discusses the One Million Signatures Campaign for gender equality, a peaceful form of protest that the Iranian government has “refused to tolerate.” Many of the campaigners have been prosecuted and “deprived of basic social rights,” including being restricted from traveling freely and emigrating from the country. She concludes by stating equality will prevail only in a truly democratic system of government:

These convictions, however, have not dampened the women’s determination in their struggle for equality. Following the June presidential elections, women of all ages took part in demonstrations against the official results.
Women are at the forefront of this struggle, well aware that they will obtain equality only within a truly democratic political order.

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