Kaveh Mozzafari

A Transcendental Campaign

Translated by Shole Irani

Saturday 17 February 2007

Today more than ever, a discourse of equal rights for women has prevailed in public so that even those opposing it use its terminology to contest it. The women of our society are prepared to act to realize their own rights. They are in search of a new identity for themselves and are willing to endure the cost of upholding this newly proclaimed social identity. In other words, the women’s movement in Iran is coming of age and currently undergoing a process of maturation. The campaign to collect one million supportive signatures to change the law for gender equality (“the Campaign” for short) is but one of many examples of such collective transformation within the movement. The expansion and the horizontal proliferation of women’s awareness, which have come out of the workings of this Campaign displays new trends in social activism. The continual enlisting of women of old and young to the Campaign speaks of the superior potentials for unity and collaboration among them along the goals of the Campaign.

Perhaps, the most important feature of this Campaign lies in its success to besiege human resources and active participants from a wide selection relating to the domain of Iranian women. The bridging of the generational gap between the old and the young activists is a further illustration of its success. In fact, since the internal power relations between members and participants are horizontally structured, so that the necessary division of duties is coupled with each member’s freedom to engage according to her own choice and capacity. As a result, the group’s productivity is increased. Member’s flexibility in tolerating difference in ideas and opinions, as well as an exercise in democracy has made it possible to reveal new potentials for collaborative work. These highly prolific conditions have provided the chance to utilize the maximum capacity for participation. Therefore, all of the necessary resources for the Campaign, are provided by a growing network of collaborative efforts of the participants, which further ensures the independence of the movement. Moreover, the spirit of self-reliance of the participants in this Campaign places their activities in a realistic and tangible realm of activism. Breaking the traditional isolation from public and staying in tuned with realities of everyday life, is the key to sustainability of all collective efforts. The active participants of this Campaign have fully comprehended that any social change needs to come about from within and from the most hidden depths of society. The welfare of society and the awareness about public well being is not gift to be injected or granted from above. Women must begin to work from the most foundational and traditional institution of our society, the family, and by relying on their newly acquired social awareness through their collective participation, create the conditions for change from patriarchal order. This Campaign, through distribution of power to all women and young girls, and through encouragement for their engagement at all levels, and based on a face-to-face method of collaborative education between women, has produced and reproduced a feminist awareness in our society. Thus, this Campaign is proliferating through the volunteer work of its participants, and its mode of engagement is through the expansion of its personal networks and connections across various sectors of women. Although the title of this Campaign suggests an immediate attention to re-evaluation of the law for gender equality, the ultimate goal of the campaign is to stabilize the ground for collaboration and cooperation between women. In other words, this Campaign offers a substantial alternative to the existing binary gender divide, and the reductive and simplistic assessments of social powers in our country. Social realities, especially those left over from the archaic patriarchal relationships, are so complex that the best way to approach them is to dismantle them completely. The Campaign to Change for Equality has fully understood the significance of this reality.

What is briefly reviewed here, are evidence of new modes of engagement within the women’s movement. The expansion of social networks along the demands of women’s movement not only sustains an infinite potential for the movement, but also provides space for creativity and imagination. High capacity of the participants in women’s movement, especially that of the younger generation involved, is illustrative of a change in modes of engagement within our civil society. Instead of relying on charismatic personalities to lead the movement, we witness a new trend for participation based on individual consciousness that allows for personal engagement and contemplation about the future of the movement. Unlike traditional social movements, social awareness is not transmitted from the exclusive elite intellectuals to other members of the group. On the contrary, we witness that every member of the Campaign is highly qualified to add to the collective awareness of the movement. It is therefore, possible to imagine in the near future a new series of women’s organizations established, especially by the younger generation. In the end, it should be noted that the women’s movement in Iran is undergoing a transitional stage, wherein it is frequently faced with limitations and restrictions that makes it impossible to fully envision the future of its progress. But, that is a subject for closer examination in another place.

[See this Piece in Farsi version]


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