Iran: Campaign to collect one million signatures demanding changes to discriminatory laws

Iranian women’s rights activists are initiating a wide campaign demanding an end to legal discrimination against women in Iranian law. The Campaign aims to collect one million signatures to demand changes to discriminatory laws against women and is a follow-up effort to the peaceful protest of the same aim, which took place on June 12, 2006 in Haft-e Tir Square in Tehran.
The activities of this campaign will not be limited to Tehran, and women’s rights activists in the provinces are strongly encouraged to participate in this campaign. Groups and individuals based in the provinces can participate in workshops in Tehran and begin campaign activities in their provinces. Larger numbers of women and women’s rights groups interested in receiving training and/or participating in this campaign can request special workshops to be held in their respective provinces. Additionally, Iranians based outside Iran can submit signatures in support of the demands of the Campaign by mail or email.

Women and men signing on in support of the demands of the Campaign must be at least 18 years of age. Signatures will be collected in special forms developed for this purpose, and will also be published on the web.

Participation in this campaign is purely voluntary. Volunteers are asked to support the Campaign through a contribution of 5,000 tomans (roughly 6 USD). These funds will be the major source of support for the activities of the campaign. In order to create change, women have often had to rely on their own limited resources, financial or other, such as time and energy. Women have always managed to rely on their capacities and their beliefs to create change. The success of this campaign, too, will benefit from women’s immense commitment.

Those interested in supporting or joining this effort should feel free to contact us, through the following means:

Web address:
Email address:
Address: Iran – Tehran - P.O. Box: 14335-851
Preparation activities in support of this campaign commenced in June of 2006 and the campaign was officially launched on August 27, during a seminar entitled “The Impact of Laws on Women’s Lives.”

The collection of a million signatures in support of changes to the law is only one of several aims of this campaign. The Campaign will also aim to achieve the following:
  1. Promotion of Collaboration and Cooperation for Social Change: This campaign intends to serve as catalyst in promoting cooperation between a wide spectrum of social activists in creating and advocating for positive social change.
  2. Identification of Women’s Needs and Priorities: This collaborative campaign aims to develop connections and linkages with a broad base of women’s groups from different backgrounds. Direct contact between equal rights defenders and other women’s and citizens’ groups will allow those involved in the campaign to identify the everyday concerns of women, especially their legal needs and problems. On the other hand, this direct contact will increase awareness among the general population about the inequities that exist within the law.
  3. Amplifying Women’s Voices: Through this campaign, the organizers hope to be able to connect with groups whose demands are left unheard. The campaign, relying on the needs identified by women themselves, aims to amplify the voices of women whose needs are often not addressed at the national policy level.
  4. Increasing Knowledge, Promoting Democratic Action: This campaign is committed to increasing and improving knowledge through dialogue, collaboration, and democratic action. The campaign steadfastly adheres to the notion that real and sustainable change can be achieved only if it is community and needs driven and reflective of the desires and demands of the society at large. Changes to women’s status in society need to be based on the belief that legal problems faced by women are not a private matter, but rather symptomatic of larger social problems faced broadly by women. In other words, this campaign is committed to carrying out bottom-up reform and to creating change through grassroots and civil society initiatives, and seeks to strengthen public action and empower women.
  5. Paying our Dues: The initiators of this campaign recognize that social change and the elimination of injustice are not easily achieved. It is through commitment to collaboration and hard work that we will be able to build the solidarity necessary to create change. Surely this solidarity and collaboration in pushing forth the objectives of the campaign will have a positive impact on the future of our country. The experiences of women’s democratic movements around the globe, and particularly, in countries within the region, have demonstrated that solidarity and commitment to the goals of collective action are key components to the successful elimination of discrimination. The struggle for equal rights in Iran will indeed be a lengthy, difficult and arduous process. The true path to achievement of equality will not be paved through existing power structures or a dialogue solely with men and women in positions of power. Rather, achieving the goals of this campaign will be based largely on a strategy which seeks to raise awareness among individual women and citizens about their identity and their status within society.
  6. The Power of Numbers: The successful implementation of this campaign will prove once and for all that the demand for changes to discriminatory laws is not limited to a few thousand women, who have supported these types of efforts in the past. In fact, the successful implementation of this campaign will demonstrate that support for legal changes are broad-based and that a large majority of men and women are suffering from the inequities that are promoted by Iranian law. The Campaign will strive to demonstrate that women are, and have consistently employed a variety of means and venues to voice their objections to the laws, such as the writing of books, articles, production of films and other forms of artistic expression, and through social activism. Those women with fewer and more limited resources have demonstrated their objection through more difficult channels, such as recourse in the courts, running away from home, or more destructive means such as suicide, or self-immolation. In an effort to demonstrate the widespread dissatisfaction with the status quo, the Campaign will aim to highlight the many strategies used by women to challenge discrimination in the law.
  7. Power in Plurality: The successful implementation of this campaign will also shed light on the fact that the demand for changes in the law is not only voiced by a specific group of women. In an effort to silence the voices of women calling for change, critics claim that demands for legal change are expressed by a particular group of women, who are out of touch with the realities of ordinary Iranian women. These critics wrongly claim that only elite and socially and economically advantaged women seek changes to laws, in direct opposition to the real needs and sensitivities of the masses of Iranian women. These claims are indeed incorrect, as discriminatory and unjust laws negatively impact the lives of all women, whether they are educated or not, live in upper class neighborhoods or poor communities, are married or single, live in rural areas or in cities, and so on. The Campaign will work to address some of these issues.
Supporters: 1. Shirin Ebadi (Nobelist) 2. Simin Behbahani (Poet) 3. Shahla Lahiji (Publisher) 4. Shahla Ezazi (Professor) 5. Babak Ahmadi (Writer and Translator) 6. Farzaneh Taheri (Translator) 7. Tahmineh Milani (Director) 8. Manijeh Hekmat (Director) 9. Maedeh Tahmasebi (Artist) 10. Farhad Aish (Artist) 11. Narges Mohamadi (Activist) 12. Naser Zarafshan (Atorney) 13. Ardeshir Rostami (artist) 14. Moniro Ravanipour (Novelist) 15. Babak Takhti (Novelist) 16. Banafsheh Hejazi (Writer and Researcher) 17. Mahvash Sheikh-ol-eslami (Director) 18. Shahla Sherkat (Journalist) 19. Farideh Ghairat (Atorney) 20. Omran Salahi (Satirist) 21. Fariborz Raees-Dana (Economist) 22. Majid Tavalaee (Journalist) 23. Nahid Tavassoli (Writer and Journalist) 24. Jafar Panahi (Director)

Campaign Members (In Alphabetical Order): 1. Tara Ahmadi 2. Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani 3. Parvaneh Ale Bouyeh 4. Taraneh Amir Teymouri 5. Zara Amjadian 6. Elnaz Ansari 7. Parvin Ardalan 8. Faranak Arta 9. Zohre Arzani 10. Maryam Bahraman 11. Jila Baniyaghoob 12. Vida Biglari 13. Hana Darabi 14. Fariba Davoudi Mohajer 15. Shahla Entesari 16. Mahdis Farah-bakhshi 17. Farideh Ghaeb 18. Sepideh Gilasian 19. Bahare Hedayat 20. Maryam Hosseinkhah 21. Mahboubeh Hosseinzadeh 22. Nahid Jafari 23. Jelve Javaheri 24. Mahsa Jazini 25. Parisa Kakai’e 26. Pooye Madadi 27. Homa Maddah 28. Golnaz Malek 29. Nahid Mirhaj 30. Maryam Mirza 31. Khadijeh Moghadam 32. Rezvan Moghadam 33. Firouzeh Mohajer 34. Mona Mohammadzadeh 35. Iman Mozafari 36. Fakhri Nami 37. Sedighe Nasiri 38. Elnaz Nateghi 39. Fatemeh Nejati 40. Negar Rahbar 41. Setareh Sajadi 42. Farnaz Seyfi 43. Fakhri Shadfar 44. Mahsa Shekarloo 45. Mansoureh Shoajee 46. Elahe Surush-nia 47. Tala’t Taghinia 48. Bita Tahbaz 49. Susan Tahmasebi 50. Narges Tayebat 51. Parvin Zarrabi