27 April 2010

Your Excellencies,

The news of the Iranian government’s candidacy for membership in ECOSOC’s Commission on Status of Women (CSW) has disturbed women’s rights activists worldwide. According to the available information, ECOSOC members will vote on Iran’s candidacy for a vacant seat from the Asia region on 28 and 29 April.

We, a group of gender-equality activists, believe that for the sake of women’s rights globally, an empty seat for the Asia group on CSW is much preferable to Iran’s membership. We are writing to alert you to the highly negative ramifications of Iran’s membership in this international body.

In recent years, the Iranian government has not only refused to join the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), but has actively opposed it. The Iranian government has earned  international condemnation as  a gross violator of women’s rights. Discrimination against women is codified in its laws, as well as in executive and cultural institutions, and Iran has consistently sought to preserve gender inequality in all places, from the family unit to the highest governmental bodies.

Iran’s discriminatory laws  demonstrate that the Islamic Republic does not believe in gender equality:  women  lack the ability to choose their husbands, have no independent right to education after marriage, no right to divorce, no right to child custody, have no protection from violent treatment in public spaces, are restricted by quotas for women’s admission at universities, and are arrested, beaten, and imprisoned for peacefully seeking change of such laws.

While the Iranian women’s rights movement has inspired equality activists around the world, the Iranian government  has no basic belief in gender equality, and would bring those views to the leadership of  CSW. How would that support CSW’s mission to remove gender inequalities and promote and protect the status of women?

The Iranian government does not respect or implement the Beijing Platform, and has done much to prevent the implementation of this platform. After fifteen years of gains on this front worldwide, Iran explicitly claims that the Beijing Platform has  failed. In recent years, the government has actively sought to justify paternalism and gender-inequality under the guise of traditional values and cultural relativism. Providing an international platform to such a government is a serious threat to women’s rights globally, and not just in Iran.

We, a group of gender-equality activists, caution you that Iran’s membership in CSW is a serious threat to the goals and mission of this institution. The Iranian government will certainly use this opportunity to curtail progress and the advancement of women.

We write this letter hoping that you will oppose Iran’s membership. If Iran’s membership at CSW is inevitable, then we urge you to require its government to make serious commitments to international conventions on gender equality, particularly in implementing the Beijing Declaration and Platform and becoming a party to CEDAW.

Respectfully,

Supported by the global sisterhood network and endorsed by

Women’s Learning Partnership

Women Living Under Muslim Law

BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights (African Network)

CEIPAZ-Fundación Cultura de Paz, Spain

GREFELS (Groupe de Recherche sur les Femmes et les Lois au Sénégal)

Droits Humanins Sans Frontiers

International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran

International Coalition Against Violence in Iran (ICAVI)

Khoie Foundation

Association of War Affected Women, Sri Lanka

SILAKA & Committee to Promote Women in Politics, Cambodia

BRAC – Development Organisation Bangladesh

Pacific Resource and Research Center for Women (Arrow), Malaysia

Signed by the following 214 notable Iranian activists both inside and outside Iran:

Ahmad Alavi, Ahmad Batebe, Ahmad Bigloo, Ahmad Saberi, Ahmad Rafat, Aida Saadat, Akbar Atri, Akram Kheirkhah, Ali Abdi, Ali Afshari, Ali Akbar Khosroshahi, Ali Kalai, Ali Kantoori, Ali Mahbaz, Ali Rakei, Ali Vaezipour, Alireza Rahbari, Amir Hoosain Ganjbakhsh, Amir Rashidi, Arash Nasiri Rghbali, Asieh Amini, Asieh Nariman, Akhtar Ghasemi, Aso Saleh, Ayande Azad, Aydin Dehghani, Azad Moradian, Azadeh Faramarziha, Azadeh Sobout, Azadeh Khosroshahi, Balal Moradveysi, Bahare Alavi, Bahareh Ravand, Bahman Mohseni Soltani, Bita Yari, Cklara Moradian, Daryosh Soltani, Delaram Ali, Delbar Tavakkoli, Dorna Bandari, Efat Mahbaz, Esmail Khoie, Elaheh Amani, Elaheh Ghahreman, Elham Gheytanchi, Enayat Katoli, Esha Momeni, Faezeh Moddares Gorji, Fahimeh Khezr Heidari, Farahmand Ali Pour, Fariba Davoodi Mohajer, Farideh Moghaddam, Farnaz Kamali, Farshad Akhtari, Farhad Khosrokhavar, Farzad Tolouei, Farnaz Kamali, Farzad Kamali, Farnoush Kamal,, Fatemeh Fanaeian, Fatemeh Gholamrezaei, Fatemeh Masjedi, Fatemeh Shams, Fereshteh Ghazi, Forough Samienia, Ghodsi Sarmast, Giti Kheirkhah, Giti Salami, Golnaz Behgoo, Hajar Kabiri, Hamid Parnian, Hamid Hamidi, Hassan Nayeb Hashem, Hassan Shariatmadari, Hazhir Palaschi, Hesam Misaghi, Hedeh Nami, Haideh Ravesh, Hodjat Narendji, Hooman Beygi, Hooshang Sobhani, Hosaain Alavi, Hossein Khosravi, Hossein Ladjevardi, Javad Safavi, Kaveh Rezaee, Khadijeh Moghaddam, Khosro Bandari, Khosrow Alafakbari, Kianosh Sanjari, Korosh Sehati, Leila Karami, Leyla Sehat, Leonardo Rafat, Lida Hosaninejad, Lobat Vala, Maboubeh Abbasgholizadeh, Mahboubeh Mohebbi, Mahnaz Afkhami, Mahshid Rasti, Mahvash Mohajer, Majid Mohamamdi, Mansore Fathi, Mansour Tifouri, Mansoureh Shojaei, Marjan Ghahremani, Maryam Afzalli, Maryam Ahari, Maryam Beheshti, Maryam Bigdeli, Maryam Ommi, Maryam Kaviyani, Masih Ali Nejad, Masoud Borbor, Masoumeh Zamani, Maryam Ameri, Mehran Barati, Mehrdad Mashayekhi, Mehrnoush Etemadi, Mitra Javanmard, Mohamad  Barjanje, Mohammad Ali Tofighi, Mohammad Fallah Nia, Mohamad Reza Eeyni, Mohammad Shirzad, Mojgan Ershadi, Monireh Haji, Nafiseh Azad, Nahid Tavassoli, Narges Kermanshahi, Nariman Rahimi, Nasim Khosravi, Nasim Sarabandi, Nasrin Afzali, Nastaran Khosravi, Nazli Sadeghi, Nazenine Ansari, Negar Aslani, Negin SheakholslamiVatani, Negar Roubani, Negar Ensan, Negin Shikholislami, Nikzad Zangeneh, Nima Rashedan, Nooshabeh Amiri, Noushin Khaki, Omid Kouhi, Parastoo Alahyaari, Pardis Derakhshandeh, Parisa Kakaei, Parvin Ardalan, Parvin Ashrafi, Peyman Mardookhi, Philip Grant, Pooyan Fakhraei, Raheleh Baktash, Rahman Javanmardi, Reza Goharzad, Reza Pirzadeh, Reza Siyavashi, Reza Partovi, Rezvan Moghaddam, Roja Bandari, Rojin Mohammadi, Roshanak Astaraki, Roudabeh Parvaresh, Rouhi Shafii, Roya Kashefi, Roxana Setayesh, Saba Vasefi, Saba Khoie, Sabri Najafi, Sachli Aflaki, Sadegh Shojaei, Saeid Habibi, Saghi Ghahraman, Saman Rasoul Pour, Samaneh Abedini, Samaneh Mousavi, Sasan Ghahraman, Sasha Siyami, Sahar Mofakham, Setare Hashemi, Sedigheh Moghaddam, Sepehr Atefi, Shadi Sadr, Shahabeddin Sheikhi, Shahla Bahardoost, Shahla Asghari, Shahram Tehrani, Shirin Famili, Shirin Mehregan, Shiva Nojo, Shourangiz Dadashi, Siavash Asghari, Simin Karimi, Simin Sharifi, Sodabeh Farokhnia, Sofia Sedigh Pour, Soheila Nikpour, Solmaz Eikder, Solmaz Moghaddam, Soraya Fallah, Souran Mardoukhi, Tahirih Danesh, Tara Ahmadi, Taebeh Monesan, Vajiheh Moghaddam, Vahideh Mahmoudi, Yavar Khosroshahi, Zahra Tofigh, Zaniyar Amadi, Zeinab Peyqambarzadeh, Zohre Asadpoor, Zoya Eskandariyan