Thursday, March 26, 2009


Campaign for One Million Signatures Honored with an Award for Global Women's Rights by Feminist Majority Foundation


Source: Feminist School, Tehran

Each year the feminist majority foundation awards prominent women rights activists. Campaign for one million signatures is one of the winners of this year (2009) award. The award is for the demands and activities to end discriminatory laws against women in Iran.

The One Million Signatures Campaign launched by Iranian women's rights activists on August 27, 2006, aims to collect one million signatures in support of a petition addressed to the Iranian Parliament asking for the revision of current laws which discriminate against women. Which should bring about a provision for education on legal issues to the public and especially to women, raise public awareness, promote collaboration between groups demanding equality between men and women.

Some of the winners from previous years are Dr. Sima Samar from Afghanistan ,Yanar Mohammad from Iraq.

Four of the Nobel peace Prize Laureates: Shirin Ebadi (2003) of Iran, Jody Williams (1997) of the United States, Betty Williams (1997) of Northern Ireland, and Rigoberta Menchu Tum (1992) of Guatemala won the prize together in 2006.

last year the prestigious award was given to Mr .Dr. Solomon Orero from Kenya and María Luisa Sánchez Fuentes from Mexico and Dr. Nafis Sadik from Pakistan .

The award inspired in Eleanor Roosevelt's memory for human rights and peace work, which signifies international solidarity and recognition and it does not include a monetary prize.

The Feminist Majority foundation was founded in 1987 by prominent women's rights activist Eleanor Smeal , the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) is the nation's largest feminist research and action organization dedicated to women's equality, right for abortion, and against violence. Among the activities of the Feminist Majority Foundation are its advocacy for election of women to public offices and campaigns for pro women's rights legislation. Among legislation that this foundation has successfully helped pass are the Violence Against Women Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and a ruling on purchasing of Guns by those who have committed domestic violence. The Feminist Majority Foundation also continues to advocate for ratification of CEDAW and the International Criminal Court.

The Feminist Majority Foundation was one of the five principle organizers of the historical march on April 25 2007 (called "March for Women's Lives"). On this day more than a million men and women marched in Washington DC in support of reproductive rights and criticized some of George Bush's anti-woman policies.

The Feminist Majority Foundation was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for its campaign, chaired by Mavis Leno, to bring the world's attention to the Taliban regime's crimes against women and girls.

Members of the Feminist Majority Foundation have stood in solidarity with the Iranian women's rights activists several times in the past, for example in 2007, when 33 women's rights activists were arrested in front of Tehran Revolutionary Court in Iran, Feminist Majority Foundation held a virtual march in their support where many added their names to the online website demanding the release of the activists.

About "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, "One Million Signatures Demanding Changes to Discriminatory Laws," which aims to collect one million signatures to demand changes to discriminatory laws against women, 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. Preparation activities in support of this campaign commenced in June of 2006 and the campaign will be officially launched on August 27, during a seminar entitled: "The Impact of Laws on Women's Lives."

Background Information

Campaign Description: Iranian law considers women to be second class citizens and promotes discrimination against them. It is noteworthy that legal discrimination of this type is being enforced in a society where women comprise over 60% of those being admitted to university. It is generally believed that laws should promote social moderation by being one step ahead of cultural norms. But in Iran the law lags behind cultural norms and women's social position and status.

Without a doubt, women of lower socio-economic status or women from religious and ethic minority groups suffer disproportionately from legal discrimination. These unjust laws have promoted unhealthy and unbalanced relationships between men and women and as a result have had negative consequences on the lives of men too. On the other hand, the Iranian government is a signatory to several international human rights conventions, and accordingly is required to bring its legal code in line with international standards. The most important international human rights standard calls for elimination of discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, religion, etc.

Campaign believes the best way to achieve its aims is to provide training and information to people; hence information in terms of publications on the laws and its negative effect in our lives have been provided. The campaign started with a few volunteers and in a very short time the numbers of volunteers grew, and now we have volunteers in 30 different cities in Iran and something in the region of 10 different countries . more than 40 workshops have been organised in Tehran and more than 30 in different cities The more people's support increases the more the government's repression increases too, 3 month after campaign launch the first arrestee was in Tehran metro during collection of signatures by a young Girl activist, and since then 63 of campaign activists have been arrested and on average 3 times each activist arrested and interrogated. The government uses every opportunity to arrest or threat the activists, their phones are tapped and under the guise of national security campaign members are stopped from gathering together so much so that the activists are not allowed to have a meeting if they are more than 5 to 6 people, the web sites are constantly filtered and have no right to any of the media in the country or to be mentioned by name.

But with all the hardship and limitation caused by the government the campaign continues its struggle and is hopeful in changing the discriminatory laws. Even though in the short time the resolution for equal inheritance has gone to parliament for ratification and also the equality in blood money for murder for women and men. all the campaigners believe that we should move forward with peaceful means and one day we will see equality in all humanity even though it will take a long time.

Read more about the campaign:

The Simone de Beauvoir Prize(2009) is Awarded to the Campaign for One Million Signatures Demanding Changes to Discriminatory Laws

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