8th March: Women of the Middle East Unite in the Struggle against Violence

Wednesday 10 March 2010

Change for Equality: Over 500 feminists and activists and some women’s and human rights organizations in the Middle East and around the world have signed a statement in order to ask ending militarism, domination, war, discrimination and social inequities the Middle East Region. The statement,
issued by Iranian women’s rights activists, appears below:

On 8th March 1857 women workers from weavers’ workshops and garment factories in New York poured into the streets seeking increased wages, decreased working hours, and the improvement of poor working conditions. The demonstrations turned violent when police attacked and beat the women protesters. Around fifty years later in 1913, following continuous protests by women, 8th March was chosen by protesting women to be “International Women’s Day”. After nearly sixty years of struggle in 1975 the United Nations bestowed official recognition on the day.

From then until now International Women’s Day has been an occasion for widespread protests against war, militarism, domination and violence. Among these occasions we can point to 8th March 1915 and 1916, where slogans were chanted against imperialist war; 8th March 1936 in Berlin in protest against fascism; and 8th March 1969 in the USA where protests were against the Vietnam War.

With the passing of the years, the women of the Middle East still find themselves in conditions that in many countries have long since become part of historical memory. For years now Middle Eastern women have had to come to grips with war, domination, militarism, the violence of security forces, control and repression, and discrimination and social inequalities. In spite of unceasing popular struggles, over the years events unfolding in this region, arising both from internal conditions and from external interference, have seen the situation become one of crisis, and sometimes of catastrophe. These crises have been accompanied by the ever freer flow of violence in the societies of the region. Although discrimination on the basis of gender, ethnic group, and class has affected all those living in the region, women have constantly been placed in greater danger.

Examples of this violence and the trampling underfoot of women’s rights may be clearly seen in the spread of forced and early marriages, conscription, violence related to family and male honour, and the multi-faceted control and repression of all aspects of women’s lives in the region.

Now that nearly a hundred years have gone by since the first widespread women’s protests on International Women’s Day, we, the women of the Middle East, demand the end of militarism, domination, discrimination and the various forms of social inequality. We request that all our sisters across the world declare their solidarity with us in the face of the various forms of violence against women in this region, and that they strive alongside us to bring an end to them.


340 Iranians have signed and supported the statement.

Amnesty International, CODEPINK Women for Peace (USA), Amargi Women’s Cooperative (Turkey), Amargi Feminist Review (Turkey), World March of Women: Network for Women’s Rights (Pakistan), The World Centers of Compassion for Children International (USA), Women’s Resource Center (Yerevan, Armenia), Women News Network (USA), RéSo (France), International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran

Mairead Maguire (Nobel Women’s Initiative), Amal Van Hees (MENA, Netherlands), Jessica Bokhout (AWID, Canada), Ayse Ulku Ozakin, Philip Grant, Laura Ellis, Max Jamson, Asli Coban, Lisa S, Daroux Sonia, Dana Balicki, Elaine Johnson, Sister Rosemarie Stevens, Jean-Jacques Barrera, Judy Urquhart, Darcy Bergh, Jodie Evans, Lilith Rogers, Susan Anderson, Lou Bernieri, Jon Bjornson, Jody Bolduc, Karen Brand, Mariel Caldwell, Renay Davis, Joanne Ehret, Friend FOX, Shirley Hayden, Trish Hernandez, Catherine Hourcade, Dominique Jeannot, Amie LaRouche, Friend Lehman, Christopher Lish, Keth Luke, Barbara Marian, Matthews Andrea, Sharon McCarthy, Bret Polish, Irene Radke, Nina Reznick, Friend Stepetic, Kate Sugarman, Sarie Teichman, Flo Weber, Friend Webster, Valerie White, Lara Wright, Wendy Thomas, Cynthia Papermaster, Julie Zak, Cheryl Davis, Leslie Angeline, Douglas Yeager, Erik Schnabel, Fran Hanlon, Peter Yackel, Meg beeler, Denise Lytle, Jane Sanford, Peter Gunther, Kenneth Lerczak, Ina Ayliffe, Frances lynch, Marie Mandl, Louise Calabro, G Kortes, Lajeanne Kline, Leslie Campbell, William O. Jenkins, Michele Nihipali, Corey Mesler, Jennifer Prettyman-Hall, George Marzocchi, Angela Anderson, Friend Hobson, Felicity Figueroa, Steve Ongerth, Barb Schade, Donald Handy, Seren Bradshaw, Daniel Goldberg, Michael Burns, Robert Shorin, Friend Raphael, Christine Payden-Travers, Jean Mont-Eton, Diana Zook, Carol Brown, Clara Roberts, Ruth Miller, Sally Howland, Kate Finn, Linda Milazzo, Jamielle Stanley, Beverly Rice, Dana Foylesong, Mary Saracino, Linda Harlow, Brenda Hill, Bonnie Faith, Sandra Mattson, Friend Burton, Twyla Meyer, Bonnie Kelchner-Bunn, Eleanor Bader, Renata Dobryn, Diana Madoshi, Cynthia Adams, Michael Michaud, David Corcoran, Barbara Ardinger, Jeffrey Turner, Carl Kugel, Patricia Chang, Eileen Coles, Mildred Barnes, Frank Smith, Mary Suda, Stewart R., Karen Barton, Jane Shipley, Eleanor Beram, Rosemarie Pace, Rosette Bagley, Karen Van Fossan, Linda Brindle, Daviea Davis, Prisca Gloor-maung, Malgorzata Schmidt, Richard Brinton, Peggy Hyland, Jeanne Fudala, Denise Romesburg, Nahid Azad, Marilyn Levin, Mary Lou Finley, Katherine Berkvam, Ashwinee Sadanand, Barbara Esposito, Lynda Hendrell, Selma Milchen, David Turnoy, Natalie Hanson, Art Hanson, Amy Rebecca Marsico, Aruna Seth, Steven Gage, Suvendu Chatterjee, Daniel de Culla, Karen Kortsch, Eva Johanos, Janie Moore, Marilyn Oswalt, Philip Bryer, Melynda Taylor, Marilyn Renaker, Judith Raphael, Isabella Pesarini, Tuula Sykko, Ana Lucia Faerron, Lyda Berger, Jim Turpin, Luci Ungar, Arzhang Kalbali, Eileen Frechette, Leah Jones, Pat Kirikiti, Nicolette Ludolphi, Marcus Jarrett, A-m Dale, Anissa Helie, Christopher Holliman, Emily Kahn, Patricia Nelms, Tracy Widhalm, Carin Conlin, Marlene Cooper, Rolf Stuber, William Rios, Maggie Hileman, Muhammad Khayri Qirbashoghlou, Robinn Mac Rostie, Liz Randol.


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