Women In Iran Work For Equal Rights, Better Future

While the women's movement may not be the first thing we associate with Iran, NPR reports that since the 1970's the women's movement has been steadily pushing back.

NPR profiles several women, each of whom has made peaceful demands on the Iranian government for the advancement of women's rights. One of the most famous woman profiled is Shirin Ebadi, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Ebadi is a human rights lawyer, and she has been working to raise awareness about the plight of women in Iran for the past thirty years.

Ebadi believes in peaceful, nonviolent campaigning. In 2006, she worked on the "One Million Signatures Campaign," which aimed to inform women about their rights, and to demand changes to the laws that discriminated against them. When they demonstrated in June 2006, many were arrested. Last Decemeber, Ebadi's office was shut down and her computers seized. This incident, among others, has led the Human Rights Watch to say that they fear for Ebadi's life.

However, this has not deterred Ebadi or the other women fighting for their rights in Iran. In her book Iran Awakening, Ebadi wrote: "It is not religion that binds women, but the selective dictates of those who wish them cloistered. That belief, along with the belief that change in Iran must come peacefully and from within, has underpinned my work." It is clear that none of these women are fighting to overthrow their religion or their past, but rather to carve out a new space for women that is in line with their beliefs and history. Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran has also said of the women's movement: "You see what no regime can do is take away from their people the past, the memory of what they had achieved...I think the past is creating the way to the future, and that is why the women are so much at the forefront."

Despite Odds, Women's Movement Persists In Iran [NPR]