On 8 March 2014, activists in Washington DC gathered in Lafayette Park to celebrate International Women’s Day, and the women who have never stopped fighting for equality and freedom, especially in places like Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan.
The event opened with Sahar sharing a brief history of International Women’s Day, followed by her reading from the poetry of Simin Behbahani:
Next Asghar read a statement prepared for International Women’s Day by Ahmad Fatemi that urged socialist women to take the lead in linking their demands to those of the working class. The statement is reproduced in text below the photo gallery in this post.
The highlight of the celebration was Latifeh’s beautiful rendition of Marzieh Oskouei’s “I’m a Woman,” which attracted both children and adults alike:
Shirin Nariman delivered a statement from the Women’s Alliance for Change in Iran:
And the closing statement from Mission Free Iran was shared by Maria Rohaly:
Mission Free Iran would like to thank everyone who joined us for this inspiring event!
On March 8, 1979, 35 years ago, as an Islamist counterrevolution was working to defeat the popular revolution that brought down the Shah of Iran, 15,000 women marched in the streets of Tehran.
Their chants were “I say it every moment, I say it under torture, either death or freedom!”
They said, “Freedom is not eastern or western – it is universal!”
As Hezbollahi thugs took to tacking the veil to the scalps of women who refused to wear it, as they shouted at women, “Yaa roosari… yaa toosari!” – “Either the veil, or you take a beating!” – women marched in the streets and shouted: “Without and with hijab, we fought against Shah. Without and with hijab, we will guard freedom.” They said: “We did not have a revolution to go back.”
In 1979, these Iranian women promised a continuation of that struggle. They said “We will continue our struggle until the complete emancipation of women. Without freedom for women, no real revolution can exist.”
This was 35 years ago.
Through torture, rape, gender apartheid, forced hijab, hanging executions from cranes in the town centres, and stoning executions – through all of these barbaric methods, the regime of the Islamic Republic has done its utmost to silence – to eradicate – these demands of Iranian women. Yet they have still failed to enforce hijab upon women of Iran. This is something that the authorities of Islamic regime themselves confess to.
Refusal to wear hijab, which is the flag of the Islamic shari’a and the Islamic regime, is very, very important in the struggle against the barbarity of the Islamic regime. But just as it is wrong to equate freedom from the Islamic regime as a final goal for our society, it is wrong to equate freedom from hijab with freedom of Iranian women. Women of Iran should not accept anything less than total emancipation, social equality. And this should be the next social revolution that emancipates women. It is working women’s – socialist women’s – job to connect their demands to those of working class of Iran. At this time, right now, a demand that working women can lift up is the demand for a minimum wage of 2 million touman, a demand that has been lifted by the Mahshahr petrochemical workers. Working women of Iran, especially socialist women, should organize all women of Iran – working women, homemakers, students and the unemployed – around this demand, and make it a social movement.
We proudly share the demands of the Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers’ Organisations for 8 March 2014:
1 – The right to establish independent organizations as well as civil and democratic freedom in all areas and dimensions.
2 – The cancellation of temporary and white signature contracts, and the prohibition of stopping work in accordance with regulations dominated by intermediary firms and contractors.
3 – The right to receive a full salary and benefits for each type of early retirement, including pension with 20 years service and 42 years of age, and retirement with ten years’ work experience.
4 – Payment of Unemployment Insurance Benefits to housewives and their entitlement to social security benefits. In the event of a disability or accident while working at home, women must be entitled to the benefits of work accident and disability provisions.
5 – The right of women to divorce, to head a family, to have custody of the children, to choose style of dress, to choose residence, and to choose a spouse; the right to education and to freely travel to different areas; the cancellation of quotas in universities and other centres of society and work, the removal of legal restrictions on employment requiring permission of the husband or father; and the revocation of all discriminatory laws about divorce, custody of children, polygamy and so on.
6 – Women are the greatest victims of insecurity in capitalist societies – societies that are formed in the context of economic crisis, poverty and social insecurity. Insecurity limits women’s mobility in society. A healthy and secure society is every human’s right, especially women’s.
7 – Enjoyment by the society, and especially women, of social security and the establishment of safe houses for abused women with special support for health, remedial education, and counselling.
8 – Release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience; the abolition of all forms of torture and executions, including the medieval and disgusting stoning punishment; and the elimination of all violence against women in all its shapes and forms.
9 – Abolition of marriage between a godfather and the child, as passed in the “bill to protect orphans or children and youngsters with unsuitable parents”! [Through this legislation,] sexual abuse of girls has been given legitimacy.
10 – Recognition of nursing, as an arduous and high-responsibility profession, as a harmful and hard job, and in this respect, allowing nurses to enjoy early retirement with full pay and benefits.
11 – Ensuring that the children of deceased women workers enjoy the salary and benefits of the mother, just as the children of male workers benefit from the salary and benefits of the deceased father.
12 – Provision of child care for all women, whether working outside the home or as homemakers.
13 – Support of all freedom and equality movements, and prevention of arrest, prosecution, intimidation and persecution of civil society and social movement activists.
14 – Prohibition of work by children under 15 years through support for their families, and limiting the child labour of children between15 to 18 years old through legal supervision.
15 – Recognition of International Woman’s Day on the official calendar of the country.
Long live 8 March!
Long live socialism!