Uniting for Freedom, Democracy & Equality

Women’s conference in Ashraf 3 in support of a free Iran – Tirana, Albania

Women’s conference in Ashraf 3 in support of a free Iran – July 14, 2019 – Tirana, Albania

Women’s rights activists and dignitaries from across the world attended a conference in Ashraf 3, home to members of the Iranian opposition group People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) in Tirana, Albania. These prominent figures voiced their support for women of Iran, who have been leading the struggle for freedom in the past decades. The attendants also expressed support for the ten-point plan for a free Iran, presented by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

Women’s conference in Ashraf 3
Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the NCRI, at the women’s conference in Ashraf 3, Albania, July 14, 2019

The first and keynote speaker of the Women’s conference in Ashraf 3 was Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the NCRI. 

The She went through the situation of women in Iran in relation with the nationwide struggle for democracy, and spoke on discrimination against women. 

“Discriminations against women in Iran and in any society, at any juncture of history, have meant to subjugate the people, to suppress them, to plunder them and to strip them of their political rights,” she said.

“You might have heard claims that if the mullahs were to be overthrown, Iran would experience chaos, disasters and destitution. But aren’t Iranian women living in conditions even worse than war-torn countries? Aren’t they suffering from poverty, unemployment and homelessness?” Mrs. Rajavi asked.

NCRI Women’s Committee Chair Sarvnaz Chitsaz

Women’s conference in Ashraf 3
NCRI Women’s Committee Chair Sarvnaz Chitsaz at the women’s conference in Ashraf 3, Albania, July 14, 2019

Sarvnaz Chitsaz, NCRI’s women’s committee was the next speaker. 

“Every woman in the resistance has made her own choice. They have set examples with their resistance in the dungeons of the mullahs. This is an unprecedented phenomenon in the history of the Iranian women,” she said. 

“This is why women are at the forefront of the battle against the regime and leading protests in Iran. They see the history of the women in Ashraf and they are inspired by their resistance. This is why the regime targets Iranian women to such an extent,” NCRI Women’s Committee Chair Sarvnaz Chitsaz concluded.

“The mullahs’ incessant savagery toward women is the driving force of the regime in its suppression of the Iranian society,” Ms. Chitsaz added.

en. Ingrid Betancourt, former Columbian presidential candidate

Women’s conference in Ashraf 3

Sen. Ingrid Betancourt, former Columbian presidential candidate, at the women’s conference in Ashraf 3, Albania, July 14, 2019

“When you will be in Tehran, and it will happen soon, you will face a tremendous challenge. You are the only real organization where women are consistently at the top. You will be confronted by the fact that taking power in a country like Iran, with 80 million inhabitants, a big country in the Middle East—it’s not a small challenge. Whatever you do will reflect in the whole world,” Sen. Ingrid Betancourt, former Columbian presidential candidate.

“The impact you will have, because you have a woman leader, because it’s in a country that has been ruled by a misogynist regime, the impact will be like an atomic bomb. This is a very serious responsibility,” she continued.

“One of the dangers we have as women is we want to be part of this world with men. We don’t  want to enter a gender war. To have the intelligence and emotional skills to use the right words and attitudes to make it understood this isn’t about taking the place of anyone, it’s about cooperation with the world—that’s a big challenge,” Sen. Betancourt continued

“Another challenge is religion. When religion is involved, it becomes very personal to women. One of the things that we have to be aware of is that this system of patriarchy, it’s a mindframe that we all have in ourselves, man and woman. We have to be conscious about it and we have to fight it in ourselves and others. You will have to deal not only with the clergy but also with women and mean who are not ready for this change,” she highlighted.

“The third challenge is the need to embrace and bring to work this labor force, half of the country. It’s an amazing opportunity… One of the challenges we need to face is how to give women confidence to embrace their capacities, to be different than men but be equally capable. You are different. I’ve never seen an organization that combines military discipline and philosophy, and aim to put an end to a dictatorship that is a misogynist regime. You have achieved something that is very unusual,” Sen. Betancourt further stressed.

“If we look at what women have done in politics today, in order to climb the ladder, we women tend to become like men, in the way we dress, the way we cut our hair and how we talk, but also in the way we build relationships with others,” she explained.

“But Maryam is the epitome of femininity. This is a woman who hasn’t lost her femininity, and this gives her patience and strength. This makes us admire her and admire through her. Men need to have the other side of humanity, the feminie side. We need to find that balance,” Sen. Betancourt said, expressing her firm belief in the NCRI President Maryam Rajavi.

“I’m humbled from what you have achieved. And I’m in gratitude for all the things I have learned from you in the past years,” she concluded.

Women’s conference in Ashraf 3 in support of a free Iran – July 14, 2019 – Tirana, Albania

Dr. Ranjana Kumari, Director of the Centre for Social Research

Women’s conference in Ashraf 3
Dr. Ranjana Kumari, Director of the Centre for Social Research, at the women’s conference in Ashraf 3, Albania, July 14, 2019

“I have been with you for years and I’ve written about your struggle. I’m sure that you are going to get there. The time is coming. However, something that is very important for us in the women’s movement and gender equality, when you see all that you’ve explained in your exhibition and everything you’ve gone through, it’s really moving. You have my full admiration for that,” said Dr. Ranjana Kumari, Director of Centre for Social Research.

“Whenever we’ve seen these struggles, one thing that is important to keep in mind is that women are in the line of fire. So many struggles where women have fought in the front lines. However, when the power came, women were made to go back to the kitchen. I’m so happy this is a unique organization where women are in top positions. You’re already involved in different levels of governance, you know how to exercise power,” she added at women’s conference in Ashraf 3.

“Women rights are human rights. I’m very happy to see your leadership has underlined there will be no compromise on gender equality… When women take leadership, they can move mountains,” Dr. Kumari concluded.

Maria Candida Almeida, Deputy Attorney General of Portugal was the next speaker. 

Women’s conference in Ashraf 3
Maria Candida Almeida, Deputy Attorney General of Portugal, at the women’s conference in Ashraf 3, Albania, July 14, 2019

“We must thank Mrs. Rajavi for finding the solution to save the members of the movement, and thank yourselves for keeping the flame of the movement alive. Let’s not forget those who are fighting inside Iran for freedom, democracy and women’s rights,” she said. 

“ You are my example.The ones who must defend the people’s rights have uptaken killings, massacre and suppression. Horrible things are happening in iran today, such as killing pregnant women.

The international community must not accept this. This is why your cause is my cause. I am with you. Your movement is an example to all of us. Your leader is courageous and strong. She is an example for all people and for me.

In the past few days, I was encouraged to work harder for you when I return home. I hope you accept me as your messenger,” she concluded.

Maria Ryan, PhD, CEO of Cottage Hospital

women’s conference in Ashraf 3
Maria Ryan, PhD, CEO of Cottage Hospital, at the women’s conference in Ashraf 3, Albania, July 14, 2019

“I’ve never seen misogyny as a culture as it is in Iran. It is systematic. You also have oppression that is happening to all people. Since I’ve come across this, I’ve tried to understand it. But until this time in Albania, where I talked to you and observed, you’re regimented and organized,” said Dr. Maria Ryan, Phd, CEO of Cottage Hospital.z

“As we move the regime out from Iran, it’s going to take a lot of work. This is where your strength becomes significant. I learned from you and your optimism. It’s impressive that you can overcome adversity and look to the future and what needs to happen,” she added.

“You are part of the living history. Fifty years from now, books will speak about you and President Rajavi. I put Madam Rajavi up with the forefathers of my country,” Dr. Ryan concluded.

Italian MP Giuseppina Occhionero spoke next: 

women’s conference in Ashraf 3
Italian MP Giuseppina Occhionero, at the women’s conference in Ashraf 3, Albania, July 14, 2019 (File Photo)

“Today, we see that we can unite and we can struggle against inequality. You women are the force of change and it is very important that you are not part of the inequality. We all have to take responsibility and work in different fields. And we have to keep our femininity. You are the answer. To all the women who have paid the price of freedom, I thank you for this,” she added. “Change will come through the fulfilment of women’s rights.”

Zinat Mirhashemi, NCRI member and Central Committee member of the Organization of Fedais  of Iran spoke about the historical precedents. 

women’s conference in Ashraf 3
Zinat Mirhashemi, NCRI member and Central Committee member of the Cherik-hay-e Fadaii Khalq Org. of Iran, at the women’s conference in Ashraf 3, Albania, July 14, 2019

“I’m proud of the generation of PMOI women who have shown their determination. The achievement I see today is the achievement of Mrs. Rajavi, and I praise you,” she said at women’s conference in Ashraf 3. 

“I want to tell you about three PMOI generations. I have had the opportunity to become familiar with different PMOI generations. Before the 1979, there were many women who were my idols. The mutual experience we had in our separate organizations was that, when women were imprisoned, it wasn’t simple. Families couldn’t understand this that we were taken from school desks to prison. The families felt ashamed.

But now, women who are in prison, we are proud of them. The freedom fighting women and the women of PMOI opened the way in those days. And now, many doors are open,”

Moroccan MP Khadija Diyani

 women’s conference in Ashraf 3
Moroccan MP Khadija Diyani at the women’s conference in Ashraf 3, Albania, July 14, 2019

Moroccan MP Khadija Diyani was the next speaker.She said: 

“Today I’m here and I believe in you more than I did before. You have shown who you are. The world will remember you for what you have shown as women who strive for freedom. What you’ve accomplished in 18 months is something that we are proud of. If you were in your own country, you would have achieved a lot more,” said Moroccan MP Khadija Diyani.

“I’m very optimistic that you will reach freedom, not for power and with power, but with hearts that don’t give up and are determined. You have high human values,” she added.

“I believe you will reach what you are fighting for because you have high determination. I’ve never seen such determination as I’ve seen in Mrs. Rajavi,” the Moroccan MP concluded.

Former Romanian MP Maria Grecea

 women’s conference in Ashraf 3
Former Romanian MP Maria Grecea at the women’s conference in Ashraf 3, Albania, July 14, 2019

“I hope in the near future, I will meet you in the fourth Ashraf in a free Iran. We are at a critical and sensitive moment in Iran because the mullahs’ regime is at a political and social dead end and we the supporters of the resistance must help the people. History has proven to us that some things will change and the fascist dictators of Iran must change,” said former Romanian MP Maria Grecea at women’s conference in Ashraf 3.

“This is important not only for the people of Iran but for the world because an exporter of terrorism will be eliminated. Your persistence as the PMOI has built international support for Iranians, especially for the uprising of the people in 2017. The international pressure and the ongoing protests have put the regime in a difficult situation,” she added.

“The future prospects are very positive. Mrs. Rajavi has a 10-point plan for the alternative to the mullahs’ regime and for building a democratic Iran,” the former Romanian MP concluded.

Tunisian MP Olfij Juwayni

Tunisian MP Olfij Juwayni at the women’s conference in Ashraf 3, Albania, July 14, 2019

“Mrs. Rajavi has a role of being a symbol of women in resistance against the corrupt and misogynist mullahs. I wish you all success,” said Tunisia MAP Olfij Juwayni.

“The role of women in the Iranian resistance and their struggle against the fundamentalist and corrupt regime of Iran, and the price they’ve paid for freedom has turned Iranian women into a phenomenon that can change the society,” Juwayni said.

Edit Bauer, former MEP from Slovakia

Edit Bauer, former MEP from Slovakia, at the women’s conference in Ashraf 3, Albania, July 14, 2019

“As a woman, what makes your resistance special to me is the key role played by women in the struggle for freedom in Iran. Mrs. Rajavi has educated and trained a generation of women who are capable of leading Ashraf residents through ups and downs, but also a generation of men who can cooperate with women in building their nation,” said Edit Bauer, former MEP from Slovakia.

“You have confronted fundamentalism in a way that no other movement has. You have  proven the failure of the mullahs’ ideology in practice. I’m seeing the strengthening of the support for your movement around the world,” she added at women’s conference in Ashraf 3.

“Mrs. Rajavi, I stand by your side and you have my support until the women of Iran have equal rights in every field,” the former MEP concluded.

Dr. Somaya  Al Jowder, former Bahraini MP

 women’s conference in Ashraf 3
Dr. Somaya  Al Jowder, former Bahraini MP, at the women’s conference in Ashraf 3, Albania, July 14, 2019

“From you, I learned about being patient and giving to others. I learned from you that endurance is the answer to everything, and how we can add to our belief and our faith,” said Dr. Somaya Al Jowder, a former member of the Bahraini Parliament.

“I have seen the perseverance of your men. They don’t fight to be first. We hope that our men in our country will do the same. I saw in Ashraf things I did not believe. I went to Iran in 2008 and saw Iran who were suffering so much. I said that Iranian youth have to make change,” she added.

“In 2014, when I saw Iran again, I was surprised to see that the situation had become worse. Iran’s uprising and rebuilding of Iran will be done by you, the PMOI women. I’m sure that next year, all of us will be celebrating democracy in Iran,” Dr. Al Jowder concluded at women’s conference in Ashraf 3.

Flore Ram

 women’s conference in Ashraf 3
Flore Ram at the women’s conference in Ashraf 3, Albania, July 14, 2019

“When Mrs. Rajavi called for national solidarity, I felt that I had found something important, and I joined along with my husband [Emad Ram],” said Flore Ram.

“When I was young, I couldn’t leave my country without the permission of my husband. If a father died, the mother didn’t have the right to raise the children. When the mullahs came to our country, they ruled like ISIS. They imprisoned and raped women. There was nothing for the people of Iran. But against that is the Iranian Resistance and the PMOI women,” she continued. 

“Mrs. Rajavi has been digging out this cancerous tumor out of Iran. I’m very proud of you. I wish everyone could get to know you like we know you. This is the reality,” Miss Ram added.

“This ten-point plan that you have shown to the world is a declaration that will be something of a very big change for Iran. With this ten-point plan, there will be 100 percent equality between men and women. I’m sure during this time, anyone who wants to fight for freedom and wants to get rid of this regime will join us,” she concluded at women’s conference in Ashraf 3.

Concetta Giallombardo, Attorney, President of the Association of Female Jurists from Italy

women’s conference in Ashraf 3
Concetta Giallombardo, Attorney, President of the Association of Female Jurists from Italy, at the women’s conference in Ashraf 3, Albania, July 14, 2019

“Struggling for the equality of men and women is something that we must pay the price for. In your struggle and resistance, this has been reviewed. There’s a mindset that is different about the relationship between men and women. The relationship is about knowledge and understanding,” said Concetta Giallombardo, Attorney, President of the Association of Female Jurists from Italy.

“I would like to congratulate you for your mindset and how you view the relationship between men and women. I hope that under your viewpoint, we will see a new society,” she concluded.