International Women’s Day
Maryam Rajavi: Women of Iran can and must win victory
My dear sisters!
The oppressed and suffering but arisen women and girls of Iran,
Happy International Women’s Day to you and to all my sisters throughout the country.
This year, International Women’s Day comes amidst the blazing flames of the blood-drenched uprising of the people of Baluchistan. An uprising with dozens of martyrs, where young people bravely attacked the Governor’s building and centers of the Revolutionary Guards and the State Security Force. They thus demonstrated the Iranian people’s resolve to overthrow the regime.
Our people in Sistan and Baluchistan are among the poorest in the Middle East and all of Asia. 70% of their population lives under the absolute poverty line. Two-thirds of them do not have access to clean potable water.
And many of their children cannot go to school because they do not have glasses and cannot see without them.
For the oppressed women of Baluchistan providing food and even drinking water is an onerous task.
Their children suffer from poverty and illness, and their young brave sons are executed, group after group, in Zahedan and other cities.
They need to overthrow the regime not just for a better life, but merely to survive.
What happened in Saravan and other cities of Baluchistan, was not an abrupt upsurge, but the continuation of the volcanic eruptions in November 2019 and January 2020.
And this volcano will continue to erupt again and again with the outpour of fury of men and women of Iran across the country.
Khamenei’s strategy of using the massive casualties of coronavirus as a shield to protect the regime did not last long.
The embers of uprisings sparked again from underneath the ashes.
As that young courageous Baluchi man said: The time is on the side of the people of Iran against the rule of religious fascism.
Baluchi women and girls also support and help their brothers and the Resistance Units in this uprising.
Yes, the women of Iran lead the Iranian people’s uprising to sweep away the mullahs’ misogynistic regime from all over Iran.
A brief history of women in Iran
Today, Covid-19, poverty and suppression have given a bleak and dismal appearance to our cities and villages; but underneath this darkness, the Iranian women’s determination to achieve freedom and equality, and to change political and social dynamics has rekindled the flames of hope.
This hope relies on the social readiness to overthrow the regime. This hope relies on the situation of a decrepit regime which is on the verge of overthrow.
Today, it is not the mullahs’ missile or nuclear programs or Khamenei’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, but the people of Iran and particularly the women of Iran who will change the equation in Iran.
So, this year, International Women’s Day delivers a commitment for Iranian women. The commitment is that they can and must break through the calamity of Coronavirus, repression and poverty, and win freedom and equality.
On International Women’s Day, I salute all the pioneering women of Iran’s contemporary history.
The brave women of the Tobacco Movement who shook the pillars of the ruling tyranny at the time.
The enlightened and fighter women whose presence was consequential in many arenas of the Constitutional Revolution.
The inspiring women who shine like stars on the horizons of Iran’s poetry and literature.
The vanguard women of revolutionary movements in the 1970s, including Fatemeh Amini, Marzieh Ahmadi Oskouii, and Mehrnoush Ebrahimi who opened the way for the overthrow of the monarchic dictatorship.
We salute tens of thousands of Mojahed and combatant women who were tortured or executed in the 1980s. Atop this list is Ashraf Rajavi, the symbol of resistance at any cost against the barbaric ruling regime. Ashraf whose name echoes a thousand times every day in the campaign of 1,000 Ashrafs in Iran and by supporters of the Iranian Resistance around the world.
And we salute the thousands upon thousands of brave women who have risen up against the mullahs’ religious dictatorships during the uprisings and protest movements. Particularly those who sparked the great November 2019 uprising, many of whom gave their lives for the cause of freedom and equality.
The mullahs concealed their names, but with their sacrifice, they sent the message that the defeat of the religious fascism is definitely possible and it will be realized by the active participation of Iranian women.
The role of vanguard women in the Iranian Resistance
My dear sisters,
When we say Iranian women are the standard bearers of hope for the future and hope for freedom and equality, we are considering not only their brilliant history of struggle, but also their present capacity and potential.
One can see this potential in the all-women Central Council of the PMOI which is leading a nationwide resistance against the mullahs’ ogre of suppression and misogyny.
They preserved and led the movement proud and steadfast, when it was besieged by two dictatorships of Khamenei and Maliki in camps Ashraf and Liberty. In this effort, they were accompanied by a generation of their brothers, emancipated men who have abandoned the ideology of gender-based perspectives and narcissist egotism. They sowed the seeds of protest in cities around the country and created a concrete sense of hope among the people of Iran for freedom.
There is also a long line of resistant and combatant women who are remaining steadfast in prisons across Iran. Although there is not much talk about them, they are among the most resistant fighters and they are proud of it.
I pointed to women’s potential and prowess. Look at all the uprisings of the past two years. From December 2017 to January 2020, our sisters and daughters demonstrated their heroism. Women and youths were the pivotal force in the uprisings of December 2017-January 2018.
All of us remember the image of that young woman who had raised her fist with the smoke of tear gas billowing in the background.
Khamenei’s IRGC commanders said in those days: Women were the main ringleaders who incited and started the protests.
In the November 2019 uprising, the state media wrote: Women’s especial leadership in recent riots seems remarkable.
The regime’s Minister of Interior said: In Tehran, each team of four, five or six people were being led by a woman.
In Tehran’s Sattari Highway, protests and chanting continued non-stop for seven hours. What was remarkable in this lengthy protest was the formation of a human chain of women who had blocked the highway towards south.
Many of the participants in the protests in Karaj were also women.
Yes, the force of rebellion of that blood-drenched and fiery uprising in November 2019 lurks in the heart of Iranian society and erupts like a storm or a roaring flood at every opportunity.
And again, it is the women of Iran who are standing in the eye of the storm in every upheaval and in every uprising.
Women of Iran overturn the reactionary order
Actually, this is why the mullahs are terrified of the force of women’s resistance.
They have deployed various kinds of weapons to contain this flourishing and progressive force, including inhuman discriminations, to suppression and constant control, to pushing millions of women towards poverty.
As a result of this, we can see that Iranian women are the prime victims of poverty and misery. Wherever shanty towns or slums have replaced conventional housing and shelter, again we see that women are the ones who endure the greatest share of hardships, lack of security, pain and misery.
Over the past year, when the outbreak of the Coronavirus inflicted a massive death toll on our nation, thousands of Iranian nurses risked their own lives to save the lives of others even as they did not have personal protective equipment. Even the regime’s manipulated statistics indicate that at least 60,000 nurses have contracted Covid-19. But the mullahs respond to them by unrestrained exploitation, dismissals and suppression.
Of course, the nurses have not given up on their demands. They hold protests outside government centers, crying out against discrimination and demanding their rights.
During the same period, the toiling female workers who primarily work in the informal sector were among the first victims of the Coronavirus crisis.
According to official figures, nearly 870,000 women had lost their jobs by summer 2020, joining the army of the hungry. Today, 40 million people in our country, including 28 million women, are economically inactive. That is, they have been robbed of their right to social and economic participation.
The number of women heads of households which was 3 million in 2016, is now between 4 to 5 million and 80 percent of them are unemployed.
Now, one can imagine when these women contract Covid-19, how are their children going to provide for the expense of their treatment? How can they provide their own food?
The comments of a young woman by the name of Fariba, who has three children and a disabled husband, bespeaks of the horrific conditions of life for several million women heads of households.
She says: “I don’t fear death (because of the coronavirus). My only fear is that my children will be hungry after I’m gone.”
These remarks are truly gut wrenching for any human being.
Yes, our society is under the yoke of oppression and exploitation. This is a society built on the shoulders of slaves who hear their symphony in the sounds of the lashes. Homeless women, women who sieve through the garbage, miserable women who are victims of the regime’s corruption, sick women who do not afford treatment, and rural women in the south and the east who have become destitute due to lack of water. Yes, the dispossessed of water.
Female workers who have nothing on their tables. Women who cultivate rice and in order to keep their job, they work between 10 to 12 hours every day walking through water in cold weather. Little girls who weave carpets and have various illnesses. Female peddlers who have not earned any income for some time now. Women in Kurdistan who have resorted to being porters, carrying heavy cargos on their backs through difficult mountainous paths.
Also the quake stricken families who are still homeless. Right now, in Sisakht of Yasuj, women and children remain in the cold of winter without any shelter.
And the harrowing tragedy of young girls being forced into marriage or sold because of poverty.
And the teachers many of whom earn less than a dollar a day. And young women who cannot continue their education because they do not have the resources to pay for the heavy expenses of college. Also, the young college educated women who do not have any jobs and are on the verge of moving under the poverty line.
Yes, these are the images of poverty which has painfully spread to every corner of Iran’s social fabric society today. Women are the prime victims of this catastrophic poverty in all the realms and bear its scars on their shoulders. They are the ones who suffer the most.
In the meantime, they have resolved to put end to this dark night. The Iranian woman’s life is gloomy today, but in the fiery protests of November 2019, she showed that she stands on the side of daylight.
As the great Iranian poet, the late Shamlou said:
Night is not on our side
Tinder sits impatiently beside a candlewick
The rage of the street is in your fist
With the enlightened poem burnished on your lips
The night grows terrified of its own darkness.
Yes, Iranian women who stare straight into this darkness say that we will sweep away this reactionary order.
They tell the mullahs: We will shatter this decrepit tower you have built on tinder boxes.
Our voice is no longer the voice of the oppressed, but the roar of a storm that will destroy reaction, oppression and misogyny.
Enlightened and freedom-loving women,
We seek to establish a pluralist republic based on human rights to replace the ruling misogynous regime—a republic based on the separation of church and state.
We want to realize a genuine democracy whose prerequisite is women’s active and equal participation in political leadership.
In tomorrow’s Iran, all women’s individual rights will be recognized, including the freedom of belief, religion, employment, and travel. Women are free to choose their attire.
In tomorrow’s Iran, men and women will achieve total parity in social, political, cultural, and economic rights.
Women must enjoy complete freedom in choosing their husbands and in marriage.
Any form of compulsion against women in the family will be banned.
Women’s equal right to divorce will be recognized.
Polygamy will be banned.
Physical, sexual, or psychological violence against women in the workplace, educational centers, households, or anywhere else will be considered a crime.
Any sexual exploitation of women under any pretext will be prohibited.
The mullahs’ Sharia laws will have no place in tomorrow’s Iran.
All international covenants on the rights and freedoms of women, particularly the Convention to Eliminate all Forms of Discrimination against Women, will be at the front and center of civil laws.
Iranian women rise up
On International Women’s Day, I salute the struggle and resistance of my sisters and daughters in the Resistance Units.
And I call on all of you, my dear sisters, the dauntless and arisen women of Iran, to spread the protests and uprisings to overthrow the regime and achieve freedom and equality.
I am addressing all the women of Iran, teachers and nurses, college and high school students, peddlers, housewives, workers and farmers.
The message of this boundless oppression, this accumulated pain and suffering and the volatile and seething situation in Iran is that no force can stop the overthrow of the mullahs.
The objective conditions and the circumstances for a revolution are in place. They must be accelerated and guided towards freedom with your enlightened and fighting force led by your vanguard sisters in the PMOI.
Iranian women have learned that instead of becoming passive and introverted in the face of misery, poverty, aggression and oppression, they must rise up. Each of the obstacles, restrictions and oppression that the regime imposes on you, is an opportunity that tests your willpower. You must rebel against all these obstacles.
Giving up and getting tired and disappointed will only embolden your enemy.
You have time and again seen that in confronting the regime, whenever you rise up and roar, the mullahs are compelled to step back and retreat.
Yes, you have learned from your vanguards, that generation of Mojahed and combatant women who have resisted and fought this misogynous regime for four decades.
This generation passed through torture chambers and execution fields; it stood fast in the face of missile attacks and the enemy’s onslaughts against Ashraf and Liberty. It got wounded, but while injured and bleeding, it stood up again and resumed its fight.
The message is simple: Carry on the struggle and uprising.
The message is that you must be more resilient in the face of suppression, injustice, pain and calamity.
As Massoud Rajavi said: “Rebels will win victory. And Iran’s destiny is written by the uprising of her children in the fields of sacrifice and struggle.” Yes, at the hands of you women and all the rebels.
We want and we can overthrow Khamenei and his regime and set Iran and all Iranians free.
You can and you must win victory.
You are the ones who can spark protests and strikes.
You are the ones who can set up resistance units and popular resistance councils.
And you are the ones who can encourage the restless youth in Iran to form their Resistance Units. Support them in any way possible. Shoulder the responsibility of inciting and advancing the uprising. Your suffering and efforts build the bridge to freedom, and on the other end of this bridge, again it is you, women who will emerge as leaders of a free and equal society.
Hail to all of you.