Women’s Situation in Iran 15 Years after the Beijing Conference on Women

By: Rezvan Moghaddam

Friday 9 April 2010

Change for Equality: During the 54th Commission on the Status of Women, held in New York, in March, which also marked the 15th year after the Beijing Conference on Women (1995) a panel titled: "The Iranian Women’s Movement 15 Years After Beijing," was organized by AIDOS. The panel which was held on March 4, was presided over by Daniella Columbo, AIDOS Director and included women’s rights activists from Iran, including Shirin Ebadi, Parvin Ardalan, Nahid Jafari, Faranak Farid and Rezvan Moghaddam. The following is the text of the speech provided by Ms. Rezvan Moghaddam, an Iranian women’s rights activist who currently resides in Germany.

The text of the speech was provided by Ms. Rezvan Moghaddam and appears here as submitted.

I am going to talk about women’s present situation in the context of the Beijing pillars. Women’s challenges and demands are based on my research and experience of working with women from different social groups.

The positive impact of Beijing was emerging a new approach by some of the officials in the areas of women’s right and created an environment in which the number of NGOs working towards women empowerment and their engagement was increased...

However, it must be said that despite efforts of women’s rights activists to change attitudes of the authorities and discriminatory laws, there has not been any fundamental changes, and women activities have been labeled as a threat to the national security and subjected to intelligence and security scrutiny, which has caused their detention, flogging and prison sentences. As I am talking to you many women activist are serving their prison sentence or waiting to be sentenced.

Considering our situation I will cover the topics that are essential to Iranian women movement now.

Feminisation of poverty is on the rise in Iran... because of many discriminatory laws against women; they have been deprived from access to power and economical resources. For example: The law of inheritance that entitles men to twice as much share as women.

Men being the head of household that enabled them to have more access to sources of wealth, the dominant governmental propaganda that women’s preference is to be a housewife, facilitated discrimination against women in the economy, resulting in their relative poverty as compared to men... women have less opportunity for work and less access to financial power. In addition, this current condition has further dropped women into low quality of living standard, and even in poor families, force them to prostitution or drug trafficking.

Fifteen years after Beijing, despite the widespread violence against women, this fact has not been seriously addressed and even being denied by authorities. All of you are familiar with domestic violence and my friend Nahid will describe it in detail.

I just want to add that as a woman in Iran your safety and security in the streets public or private places can be violated by authorities at any time... Laws which prevent women to wear their choice of dress are still in place and women are punished for their type of clothing and social interaction with men in the public. For the excuse of any of these matters, you could be arrested and subjected to violence by police or state staged projects under the name of “preventive immorality”. I would like to remind all of you that how Dr. Zahra Baniyaghoub, a 27 physician, who was arrested while she was walking in a park in Hamedan with her fiancé in 2007(?)was arrested and died in 36 hours while she was in custody. Therefore, not only women are exposed to domestic and social violence, but also, they are exposed to violence bestowed upon them through laws and state institutions.

As a result of this widespread domestic and state violence against women depression, self immolation and high numbers of suicide among women has been alarmingly increased nationally. Common belief of most women discussion groups indicated that Polygamy and temporary marriage are among major reasons for women’s suicide. currently not only the existing discriminatory laws have not been changed, but also, in last couple of weeks, the Family bill was passed by the parliament in which it facilitate temporary marriage and polygamy and will encourage the practice even more.

With understanding that education is an essential tool in women growth and empowerment

women were trying to promote their positions in the society through high education, and female students were able to get about 65 % of the seats in universities through hard work and scientific competition, the state forced to limit girls‘ access to high education by applying the gender quota. It should be added that not only access to education is discriminatory, but also the current educational system reinforces the gender inequality and discrimination, and sustains the gender stereotypes via text books.

The male-dominated culture in political power is also controlling Iranian media, press and publications. It has a tendency to male monologue; censorship of news related to women’s rights activists; propagation of incorrect news and analysis about feminism on state television and newspapers; unequal airtime, budget, and exposure.

Female journalists don’t hold key positions in media management, even though the General Secretary of Iranian Journalists Association, Badrossadat Mofidi is a female but at the moment she is in detention along with the numbers of other female journalists.

In a country which is considered as the largest prison for the Journalists, female journalists are subject to enjoy the equal opportunity of being detained. And their publications being shut down such as Zanan magazine which was being published for women and by women for 16th years was closed done.

The inequality in media has led women towards using the Internet and cyberspace. But most web sites which concentrate on women’s issues face censorship and filtering. For example, Zane Stan Web site was filtered seven times and finally was shut down, Change for Equality Web site, 21 times, Feminism School 12 times. Centre for Iranian Woman Web site and Maydan e Zanan. Several times and is a daily occurrence. .

to address women’s right challenges they have established groups, coalitions, societies, and To respond to the urgent matters, women have launched many vibrant campaigns such as the One Million Signatures Campaign, Anti-Stoning Campaign, Campaign for Admission of Women in Sports Stadiums, Women’s Collective Thinking group, Women’s Manifesto Group, Mothers of Peace, mourning mother and the formation of Women’s Coalition on the threshold of the June presidential elections which put women’s demands to presidential candidates and transformed the elections atmosphere to a demand-driven one, forcing the candidates to take a stand and address women’s demands , ratification of CEDAW being one of major demands.

The strategies of women movement which covers these campaigns will be covered today by my friend, parvin

The work of women’s rights activists has become increasingly difficult due to existing political blockage. The Beijing platform has been suspended since 5 years ago and all the challenges facing Iranian women has remained in place. In

response to the current situation and to register their most basic demands, in which the voices and various needs of different groups is reflected, women have drafted and finalized a document of women’s demand with 14 articles in consultation with diverse groups of women as stake holder which is included in the shadow report on status of women in Iran and is available for your review.

Hoping for a world without violence and discrimination.


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