Maryam Rajavi’s plan for women’s equal rights and freedoms
An outline of the Iranian Resistance’s viewpoints on women’s rights in tomorrow’s Iran(1) is declared as follows:
1. Fundamental freedoms and rights
• Women shall have the equal right to enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
• Irrespective of their ethnicity, religion, social class, or demographics, women everywhere, in whatever village or city, must have the same rights as men in all economic, social, and political spheres. Discrimination against women will be abolished in all its forms.
• Women are free to choose their place of residence, occupation, and education. They must have the opportunity to travel freely, have the right to choose their spouse freely, have the freedom to choose their clothing, and have the right to leave the country, to obtain foreign citizenship, to devolve citizenship to their children, to divorce, and to obtain custody and guardianship over children.
• Belief in a specific faith or religion must not count as a factor to degrade any women or prevent them from access to employment opportunities or educational and judicial resources.
2. Equality before the law
• Women must enjoy the protection of the law equal to men.
• Women must enjoy access to guaranteed judicial recourse in the face of violence, rape, discrimination, and deprivation of liberty.
• Women must have equal rights as men before the courts.
• Courts must view testimonies and affidavits submitted by women equal in weight to those submitted by men.
• The legal age for girls shall be 18. Before this age, girls shall not be subject to criminal punishment.
3. Freedom of choosing one’s clothing
• Women are free to choose their clothing.
• The law of forced veiling shall be repealed.
• Laws that prescribe administrative punishment for lack of veiling of female workers or employees will be repealed.
• Written or unwritten laws on controlling women’s clothing or behavior under the rubric of “mal-veiling,” which have violated Iranian women’s right to freedom and security, shall have no place in tomorrow’s Iran.
4. Equal participation in political leadership
• Women shall enjoy the right to participate “in the formulation of government policy and the implementation thereof and to hold public office and perform all public functions at all levels of government.”
• Women must specifically enjoy the right to equal participation in the country’s political leadership.
• In order to dispense with any inequality, I propose that the government appoint women for at least half of its posts, and I suggest that political parties be obliged to choose at least half their candidates from among women for parliamentary elections.
• Any laws that cause prohibitions or limitations on women occupying government posts or senior judicial and legal positions must be repealed.
5. Equality in the economic sphere
• Women shall enjoy equal rights as men in terms of inheritance, entering contracts, and property management.
• Women shall have equal opportunities as men in the labor market.
• Women must receive equal pay for equal work as men and have job security and full benefits.
• In accessing housing, appropriate nutrition, medical services, education, and athletic and artistic endeavors, women shall enjoy equal opportunities as men.
6. Equality in the family
• Women must have free and equal rights to choose, marry or divorce a spouse.
• Polygamy is prohibited.
• Marriage before reaching legal age is prohibited. In family life, any coercion or compulsion of women is prohibited.
• Familial responsibilities such as housekeeping, raising children, employment, and educating children are the obligation of both men and women
• Women shall have the right to obtain custody of their children.
• Employment of young girls below the legal age shall be prohibited. They will enjoy special privileges in the field of education.
• Government inquisition and meddling in women’s private lives are prohibited.
7. Elimination of violence
• Various forms of violence against women, acts of intimidation, or forcible deprivation of their freedoms shall be considered crimes.
8. Elimination of sexual exploitation
• Sex trade is prohibited.
• Trafficking of women and forcing them into prostitution is a crime, and those responsible will be criminally prosecuted.
• Anyone committing sexual crimes against children will be prosecuted.
• Any form of sexual exploitation of women under any pretext shall be prohibited, and all customs, laws, and regulations which allow the parents, guardian, or a third party related to a girl or woman to give away the latter to another party for sexual pleasure or exploitation under the pretext of marriage or anything else will be annulled.
9. Repealing Mullahs’ Sharia laws
• The mullahs’ Sharia laws shall not have a place in the laws of future Iran.
• Emphasis shall be “to repeal all national penal provisions which constitute discrimination against women.”
• Appalling and brutal laws such as stoning will be repealed.
• All laws authorizing crimes against women under familial pretexts shall be repealed.
10. Social benefits
• Women must have access to social benefits, especially as it relates to retirement, unemployment, old age, other forms of disability, maternity leave during pregnancy and after delivery, and the right to sufficient nutrition-free services during pregnancy this period.
• The government is obligated to plan to provide for the nursery and daycare requirements of working women. All employed women must have access to nursery and daycare centers for raising their children.
• Women belonging to minorities, female refugees or immigrants, women living in villages or remote areas, underprivileged women, female prisoners, girl children, and disabled or weak or older women shall enjoy special financial, educational, and medical support from the government.
• Depriving women employed under temporary contracts of social benefits shall be prohibited.
• Dismissing women from work or reducing their wages due to pregnancy or delivery or obligating them to perform dangerous jobs during this period shall be prohibited.
• Women must enjoy the right to suitable housing and to live in a safe, calm, and decent place. They must have security against forcible evacuation and destruction of their homes. We stress the adoption of laws to prevent women’s risk of losing their homes after their husbands’ death.
• The government shall assume responsibility for supporting single women who provide for their families.
Equal and Active participation of Women in Leadership
Our experience (within the Resistance movement) made it palpably clear that defeating the curse of inequality is impossible without a leap forward, meaning that competent women had to assume leadership responsibilities without the slightest degree of anxiety. Women’s hegemony in the Iranian Resistance, as a paradigm-shifting transformation, paved the way for women to take on responsibilities in all fields.
As a result of this campaign, women succeeded in adopting noble values and rose above a decadent and reactionary culture.
As a first accomplishment, they came to believe in themselves and their capabilities. Moreover, when they discovered how vital their responsible roles are in advancing the struggle against religious tyranny, they decided to leave the world of irresponsibility and passivity, where a women’s self-identity is reliant on others. Instead, they stepped into a world of responsible women who lead a struggle with all its potential consequences.
They parted with vices that would hold them back, like jealousy, comparison, and attributing worth to physical attributes, appearances, and age, all of which significantly deplete women’s energies. They also managed to replace attitudes of frailty and fragility with a sense of forte and strength.
They shed their fears of facing defeat or exhibiting weakness in the face of difficulties. Instead of succumbing to pressure, they learned to cultivate the power within themselves to overcome defeat.
Instead of losing hope, they learned to remain helpful and assiduous in opening the path to victory.
In our movement, relations among women have changed such that women stand alongside each other and support and hear one another as if they were biological sisters. They fulfill the most cumbersome responsibilities collectively and based on such relations. They do not undermine each other. Progress made by any one of them is a source of encouragement and inspiration for other women. Furthermore, collective effort to elevate the responsibilities of other women is considered a virtue.
Each woman in the Resistance has realized that she would be empowering herself by cooperating with and supporting her colleagues. In this path, they have attained an incredible ability to make sacrifices for their sisters. For this reason, they succeeded in running the affairs of Camp Ashraf in the most challenging and complicated battles in the last decade.
To rebuild the free Iran of tomorrow, we must still be armed with this outlook so that we can create democratic institutions in our society. In other words, the Iranian Resistance also has the historic responsibility to be a builder and a founder.
If democracy does not rely on gender equality, participation of all people, free choice of all sectors of society, and unconditional freedom of speech, it would quickly deviate and take on reactionary tendencies.
The idea of equality in our movement is inspirational and promising for Iranian society, especially its women and youth.
When you target sexism, you are attempting to shatter the velayat-e faqih system’s cornerstone (absolute clerical rule).
When you target the mullahs’ misogyny, you are aiming at the heart of their ideology. As a result, neither the mullahs’ jurisprudence nor Sharia, nor their reactionary laws and culture, would find a solid footing.
This explains why the mullahs target the PMOI incessantly and extensively through utter demagoguery. In their view, the PMOI’s first offense is its unwavering commitment to bring about regime change in Iran.
In their view, the PMOI’s first offense is its unwavering commitment to bring about regime change in Iran.
In addition to this, under the mullahs’ Sharia, the PMOI has committed the cardinal sin because the Iranian Resistance believes that Iranian women are competent enough and must assume the leadership of the democratic Iran of tomorrow.
This movement totally rejects the ruling ideology and behavior and has risen to overthrow oppression, inequality, and injustice in its foundation.(2)
No to Compulsory Veiling
Another area of violence and compulsion in Iran is the mandatory dress code or Hijab. Since the early days of Khomeini’s rule, Iranian women protested against compulsory veiling. At the time, the PMOI women actively participated in demonstrations against compulsory veiling.
A series of laws were also enacted to deprive Iranian women of their individual and social rights. Several agencies are in charge of suppression and especially tasked to counter improper veiling. In fact, they have turned Iran into a great prison for women.
For this reason, we reiterate that Iranian women must be free!
They must be free to choose what they believe in, what to wear, and how to live.
We repeat, NO to compulsory veil; NO to compulsory religion; and NO to compulsory government.(3)
Misogyny is at the core of suppression against society because preserving the ruling theocracy is predicated on it.
Such misogyny does not arise from blind, religious zealotry nor from attempting to safeguard societal chastity, nor from trying to preserve the family’s foundation. Under the mullahs’ rule, Iranian society has seen depreciation of values and the spread of prostitution.
Misogyny under the cloak of religion has become systematic and persistent because it is a lever to maintain the monopolistic domination of the velayat-e faqih. Misogyny is the raison d’être for dozens of the regime’s suppressive agencies.
This justifies the permanent surveillance operations in the streets, street patrols’ actions, and the conduct of such agencies as “The Office to Combat Vice,” or “The Morality Police Force,” and 20 other police entities.
Similarly, clamping down on women on the pretext of mal-veiling is one of the most effective means to repress society and silence any voice of dissent.
The mullahs have no scruples in enchaining women on so-called religious grounds.
In other words, they have free rein in scrutinizing and controlling everything, everywhere, including in sports, administrative and production settings, in hiring or firing, in constantly controlling women’s and youths’ commute in the streets, in arbitrary raids on people’s homes, in censoring books, movies, theater, and music, in filtering websites and social media, in fabricating judicial cases and in attacking parties.
This explains why enforcing the Hijab has gained such prominence in the regime’s policies and laws and why the mullahs openly equate a “mal-veiled” woman with counterrevolutionaries.
This explains why whenever the regime suffers a political setback on the international scene or faces social protests and uprisings, it steps up executions and intensifies the campaign against mal-veiling.
The ruling mullahs are fully aware that if they show leniency vis-à-vis compulsory veiling or modify any of their laws and policies that oppress women, the latter’s power will quickly advance and mobilize society.(4)
1-Maryam Rajavi’s Ten-Point Plan on Women’s Freedoms and Equality in Tomorrow’s Iran
2-Excerpts from speech to the International Women’s Day conference, March 9, 2013
3-Excerpts from speech to the International Women’s Day conference, “Women United Against Fundamentalism” – Paris, February 27, 2016
4-Excerpts from International Women’s Day conference – Paris, March 8, 2015