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International Women’s Day Conference – Tirana 2017

On the eve of International Women’s Day, a conference entitled “Women in Political Leadership” was held in Tirana, Albania. The keynote speaker was National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) President-elect Maryam Rajavi, as well as distinguished politicians, personalities, and women’s rights activists throughout the international community.

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There were a group of 1,000 women from the Camps Ashraf and Liberty, which were a focal point throughout the program. In addition, the program featured musical performances and documentary video clips on Iranian women and their 150-year struggle for freedom.

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One of the speakers was Linda Chavez, a former White House director of the Office of Public Liaison and Chair of the Center for Equal Opportunity, who noted, “What Madam Rajavi has put together in her ten-point plan, which calls for an independent judiciary, freedom of the press, absolute equality between men and women, [and] a separation of religion from the state; all of these things are necessary building block of democracy and freedom.”

Still, she acknowledged that the reality in Iran is that “women are not just second class citizens, they are treated almost as if they are subhuman.”

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Iveta Radicova

Another European speaker was Iveta Radicova, the first woman Prime Minister of Slovakia and former Minister of Defense and Labour, who spoke from the perspective of the experience of her own country’s political changes. “The first step is to change the regime from a dictatorship to democracy. That’s true. The second step is to create a really democratic government, democratic structures, and democratic free elections…Then is the most complicated step, when you have the power. You are democratically elected and you have to implement human rights on all levels of social life,” said Radicova.

Other speakers praised Rajavi’s leadership and her 10-point plan for a democratic Iran. “This is very important to us that the group, which is opposing the religious tyranny is a Muslim force led by women. Having Maryam Rajavi at the helm of the Iranian Resistance and her political platform for a free Iran based on pluralism has a clear message for the Iranian people that the alternative to this regime, not only will end oppression against women, but will be a model of gender equality in the World of Islam and the Middle East,” said Senator Stefania Pezzopane, a member of the Italian Senate.

Laurence Fehlmann Rielle, a member of the Swiss Parliament, noted, “The most remarkable aspect of Iranian women’s defiance of the regime is their participation in the resistance. You can be very proud that some 52% of the National Council of Resistance of Iran are women. By comparison, if you see Switzerland, which is a so-called developed country, we are only 32% represented in the parliament.”

The speakers also remarked on how inspired they were by the women that are part of the Iranian resistance. “Women are a positive voice for change…It is very uplifting to see how committed you all are under the enormously difficult circumstances that you have all experienced…And I’m going to bottle that little bit of feeling and take it away with me and try and make sure that certainly in my country and in the rest of the European Union people listen and people join you and help you and I hope as others have said to be there on the day when you’re able to go back to Tehran,” said Julie Girling, member of the European Parliament from the UK.

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Maryam Rajavi

In the end, the meeting encouraged and committed to the stand Iranian women have taken against the fundamentalism of the current Iranian regime and the determination of the resistance to create a democratic Iran with equal rights for women, politically, legally and socially.

“So, you see today, we’re celebrating Women’s Day. And we’re celebrating leadership in women. But I have to tell you, we’re far beyond women leadership. Today, what we are celebrating is you: Women of Courage. You are our heroes,” said Ingrid Betancourt, former Senator and Presidential Candidate in Colombia, who was speaking to the women in the audience from Camp Liberty and Ashraf. “And all those stories that you have told me that I cannot summarize today, all the things that you didn’t tell me that are in your heart, those are the things that have to be written because they are the legends that will be told in future generations in Iran of this resistance that will bring freedom, equality, and justice to your country.”

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