Thursday, March 8, 2007

Women Challenge the Islamic Republic

Today, March 8, is a global day of celebration of power of women past, present and future. The International Women’s Day (IWD) celebrations through the decades past have ushered significant events, most memorable of all the 1917 Russian women’s strike for “bread and peace” which forced the abdication of the Czar and the formation of the Russian Provisional Government. Nowadays thousands of events are held throughout the world to celebrate women’s achievements, some even supported by major corporations.

In Iran, the government chose to arrest women’s rights activists ahead of IWD. 33 women were arrested on 4 March for gathering outside a Tehran courtroom, where four women activists were on trial for organizing a protest against gender-based discriminatory laws in the Islamic Republic.

In the recent months, the women activists and advocates of equal rights in Iran had started two major campaigns. One calls for an end to stoning to death of convicted adulterers. The other, and a much larger campaign, aims to gather one million signatures from Iranians of all walks of life who are in favor of changing gender-based discriminatory laws. The organizers of this campaign hope to present these signatures to Majlis, the parliament, in the coming days.

Women in Iran are calling for equal rights with men, equal rights in divorce, equal rights in child custody, and equal rights in inheritance. Such rights not being respected in 21st century might prove to be the Achille’s Heel of the Islamic Republic.

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