On the eve of International Women’s Day, a grand gathering entitled “Pledge for Parity: Women United against Fundamentalism” was held on Saturday, February 27, 2016 in Paris featuring the Iranian Resistance President-elect Maryam Rajavi and a number of political dignitaries, intellectuals, prominent personalities, and activists of the equality movement from 26 countries and four continents.
The speakers discussed ways of confronting Islamic extremism as the world's main challenge and pointed out the successful example of the Iranian Resistance in realizing equality and pioneering role of women in all areas of struggle against fundamentalism. They emphasized that with solidarity and unity of action, women can play a decisive, key role in the fight against fundamentalism and realization of equality.
In her speech at the conference, Mrs. Rajavi reiterated on the role of women in equality movement and said: “By realization of women’s equality and their active and equal participation in political leadership, we will turn this century into the era of women’s emancipation.”
“Anything that promotes compulsion, denies people's free choice and anything that denies women's equal rights is not Islam but against Islam. We do not tolerate violation of women's rights in the guise of religion or under any other pretext. In the face of extremism, fundamentalism and exploiting the religion, we advocate democratic Islam. Our plan for tomorrow's Iran is to establish a democracy based on freedom, equality and separation of religion and state, where death penalty is abolished. Equality in basic rights and freedoms, equality before the law, economic equality, equality in the family as well as freedom of choice of clothing and active and equal participation in political leadership,” she explained.
Addressing the Iranian regime’s sham elections, Mrs. Rajavi said that what was held yesterday was not an election of people's representatives. It was a competition between the incumbent and former officials in charge of torture, execution and export of terrorism which foiled the myth of moderation of the regime.
“As such, the sham election met with repugnance of the majority of the Iranian people and especially the youth. By holding this election, Khamenei seeks to further concentrate his regime on the war in Syria and on the misogynous suppression in Iran. However, it will be the beginning of an era of unprecedented fragility and decadence of the Velayat-e Faqih and he will not be able to do away with the consequences,” she said.
“Mandatory veil is an all-inclusive and permanent tool for suppression of women. In a matter of only one year, 3.6 million women were inspected and questioned on the streets for ‘improper veiling’ and 18,000 women were put on trial. Common practice of violence and rape against women and widespread addiction and misery of women are among products of the mullahs' corrupt Sharia. In Iran under the rule of the mullahs, polygamy, anti-human treatment of women and girl children, sexual abuse of girl children under 9 years of age are justified and imposed on women. Velayat-e Faqih is a senseless monopoly that is confronting women's equal rights full force. They have turned Iran into a big prison for women,” Maryam Rajavi said.
Mrs. Rajavi addressed the Iranian women and said: “You and your pioneering sisters in Camp Liberty can and must sweep away the mullahs' religious tyranny and all the fundamentalist groups emanating from it under any name. You can restore freedom to Iran, peace to the region and security to the world. You deserve to take your fate in your own hands in an Iran without Velayat-e Faqih. Women of the Iranian Resistance struggle so that the people of Iran, and especially women, could be free and able to exercise their right in determining their own destiny.”
Amongst the speakers were Linda Chavez, former White House Director of Public Liaison and US expert to UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights; Rama Yade, former French Minister of Human Rights; Ingrid Betancourt, former Colombian presidential candidate; Rita Sussmuth, former President of German Bundestag; Ranjana Kumari, Director of the Centre for Social Research and 5th winner of the Lotus Leadership Award from India; Nagham Ghaderi, Vice-President of Syrian National Coalition; Rashida Manjoo and Yakin Erturk, former UN Special Rapporteurs on Violence against Women; Christine Ockrent, French journalist, writer and renowned TV commentator; Beatriz Becerra, member of the European parliament from Spain; Stefania Pezzopane, Italian Senator; Margarita Durán Vadell, Spanish Senator; Fatiha Bakkali on behalf of women legislators from Morocco; Najima Thay Thay, former Minister of Education and Youth from Morraco; Anissa Boumediene, former first lady of Algeria, Islamic scholar and jurist; Azza Heikal, Egyptian writer and professor of Arab Academic University affiliated with the Arab League and a leader of women’s council of Arab tribes; Majedeh Novaishi, Vice-President of Arab Women Representatives Coalition from Egypt; Drita Avdyli, former Deputy Minister and current Chairwoman of National Chamber of Mediation, Diana Culi, writer journalist and politician, Sevim Arbana, founder of organization Useful to Albanian Women from Albania; a delegation of jurists including Fatoumata Dembélé Diarra (Mali), judge for ICTY and ICC judge since 2003, Kristy Brimelow, Queen’s Counsel and Chairwoman of Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales, and Sara Chandler (Britain), Chair of Human Rights Commission of Federation of European Bar Associations; Maria Candida Almeida, Attorney General Deputy in the Supreme Court (Portugal); Zinat Mir-Hashemi, member of the National Council of Resistance of Iran and chief editor of Nabard Khalq paper; Safora Sadidi, member of PMOI Central Council; and a number of chairs of associations and communities and youth supportive of the Iranian Resistance.
Participants declared that women are the main victims of fundamentalism. With solidarity and unity of action, they can play a significant and key role in combatting this ominous phenomenon that has surpassed all geographic borders and all limits of violence, today.
Ms. Sarvnaz Chitsaz, Chair of NCRI Women’s Committee, Ms. Zolal Habibi, member of PMOI Central Council, and Ms. Linda Chavez were the moderators of the program. Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives; Baroness Boothroyd, former speaker of UK House of Commons; US Congresswomen Loretta Sanchez and Judy Chu; and prominent French anthropologist and writer Françoise Heritier sent messages to the conference.
The grand gathering featured a performance by a Syrian child depicting the pain and suffering of the people of Syria, performances portraying executions of young Iranian women and the role of mothers of political prisoners, also the tragedy of acid attacks on young women of Iran.
A group of musicians from Albania, and renowned singers and members of the Iranian Resistance Mmes. Marjan and Gisoo Shakeri, as well as young Iranian singer, Ms. Ayda, performed in the Paris gathering.