March 8 and a female revolution
Interview with Azar Majedi
It appears that March 8 is becoming a very serious occasion in Iran. What is your assessment?
Azar Majedi: In the last two to three years, March 8 has turned into a serious occasion in the progressive struggle in Iran. In the recent past, we witnessed demonstrations and large and small gatherings in various parts of the country. There were interesting initiatives taken in some of these demonstrations; in particular, women demonstrating in Sanandaj and young girls who were ice-skating and dancing in a park in Mashhad pulled off their veils. This year too it seems that there have been extensive preparations to celebrate March 8. Banned graffiti is appearing on walls, greeting cards have been sent, and so on. It seems that we will witness an extensive celebration by supporters of women's liberation in Iran.
What is the situation of March 8 internationally? In your opinion, what effect will the huge anti-war movement have on March 8 internationally and in Iran?
Azar Majedi: The USA's war on Iraq has become an important international political and social issue. There are moves to turn March 8 into a day of protest against the USA's attack on Iraq. I think it is a very humane and appropriate decision to turn this year's March 8 into a day of protest against US bullying, its attack and the mass killing and destruction in Iraq. In Iran too, condemning the US attack on Iraq is a very principled position, however this should not sideline the issue of women's liberation and equality. Condemning the attack on Iraq must take place alongside demands for freedom and equality of women.
What is the situation of women in Iran? Do you think that we will have a female revolution in Iran?
Azar Majedi: The women's progressive movement in Iran is very widespread but because of the repression which rules in Iran, this movement shows itself in a scattered form and is deprived of identifiable leadership. Different tendencies within this movement have yet to find the opportunity to express themselves. The part of this movement that is outside of Iran has clear characteristics and identifiable leadership. In a free environment in Iran we will see the depth and scope of this progressive social movement within Iran. The Organisation of Women's Liberation seeks to bring this movement under one roof. I believe the future revolution in Iran and for that matter this movement will very much shape any serious future political developments. The question and demands of this movement will be clearly declared. The future revolution will have no choice but to deal with these demands. In a seminar entitled: 'Will communism be victorious in Iran', Mansoor Hekmat stated that the future revolution in Iran could be a female revolution. I believe that this position is based on a real and objective assessment of the political and social situation of Iran. If this happens, I would not be surprised.
What is the importance of the women's movement in Iran in the struggle for women's liberation internationally?
Azar Majedi: The victory of the women's liberation movement in Iran will have an immediate effect on the situation of women in the region, in particular in Islamic-ridden societies. This movement and its achievements will open the way for the liberation movement in the region and will lead to its speedy growth. The most immediate and general effect of this internationally will be a complete sweeping away of the cultural relativist thesis and justification of continued oppression of women by referring to 'people's culture'. If the achievements of the women's movement are profound and widespread, it would not be surprising for it to have the same effect as the October revolution on women's condition in Russia. The expropriation of the 1979 revolution by the Islamic regime of Iran and the ensuing barbarity that was imposed on women in Iran have pushed back the status of women in the region and negatively effected the general progressive movement internationally. If we witness a victorious revolution in Iran, its positive effects on the world would be undeniable.
How do the political movements in Iran deal with the women's movement in Iran?
Azar Majedi: The women's liberation movement is so powerful and widespread that it has forced all political forces to take a position on it. The so-called reformist faction within the regime, which is drowning under the pressure of the women's liberation movement, has been proposing nonsensical changes such as equal retribution for women and moving stoning to death behind closed doors in order to find acceptability amongst women. But the women's movement is far more aware than to be influenced by such idiocy. Though sections of the opposition that support the so-called reformist faction of the Islamic regime as well as the right-wing and pro-west opposition propose a little more but essentially their demands are trivial. The real demand of this movement is the unconditional and complete equality of women and men. Amongst the opposition, it is the Worker-communist Party of Iran that proposes this demand and has formulated the detailed and specific demands of women in the programme 'For a Better World'. Additionally, the struggle for freedom of women is a significant part of the activities of this Party. The Worker-communist Party of Iran both in practice and programme supports the freedom and complete equality of women. The Worker- communist Party of Iran's widespread attraction for women is itself an indication of this fact.
How do you see the future for the Organisation of Women's Liberation? Where do you think it ought to go? How has this organisation been received?
Azar Majedi: My own aim is to turn the Organisation of Women's Liberation into the voice of the significant section of this progressive movement - a roof over the women's progressive movement. My own wish is for the Organisation of Women's Liberation to become the organisation of all progressive women and the banner of this movement. We aim for this and I think it is achievable. The Organisation has been warmly received ever since its establishment. We aim to become the centre of protest and the meeting place of all progressive women in Iran.
What are your calls for this year's March 8 in Iran?
Azar Majedi: We must celebrate this day in any shape and form, from mass meetings to small gatherings, from mass to brief demonstrations. We must try to come out even for a short period without veils and pull off the veils in our demonstrations. Burning of the veil as a symbolic act is an interesting action. Undermining sexual apartheid and reactionary laws is another aspect of our activities. We should not let this day pass by quietly. The women's liberation movement must stamp its mark on society on this day.
The above was an interview by Mustapha Saber in the Young Communists, the publication of the Young Communists' Organisation, Number 79 on 26 February 2003. It was first printed in English in WPI Briefing 97 dated 3 March 2003.