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History of March 8th in Iran

Talat Taghinia / translated by :Karineh Kanants

Thursday 31 July 2008

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Feminist School : Our mother’s in Iran commemorated 8th of March for the first time in the northern city of Rasht at 1922 via their associate organization " Peyke Saadat Nesvan" . They also opened a school named "Peyke Saadat and a journal with the same name to educate and inform women Another close hearted and like minded Iranian women organisation called Bidariye Zanan "awakening women" who organised the commemoration of 8th of March on 1926 by organising a play known as "sacrificed girl" and read the history of 8th of March and explained how the women in the textile factory in New York, demanded increased wages and less working hours and stood bravely against the police who arrested them and a few were killed during the struggle. Klara Tsetkin who put all her energy to serve the working people and in particular the women was her creative idea and suggestion that 8th of March should be recognised as "International Women’s Day" and women all over the world should commemorate this day with demonstrations and meetings (whether or secretly), women continued their struggle until United Nations in 1975 recognised the International women’s Day as an official day.

In Iran after the fall of Reza Shah "Iranian Women Democratic Association" was established and organised commemoration of the international women’s day by inviting families to outings and by reading poetry, reports of struggles, played music. On 8th of March thousands of women and girls made an oat to struggle with their brothers for independence and freedom. After the 1953 August 9th Coup all the political parties were deemed as illegal and hence were the women organisations, during all of the Reza shah’s reign 8th of March was not commemorated legally and openly, even though the political parties operated underground but women showed no zest to commemorate instead they moved to struggle with men for broader aspirations. After the 1979 revolution once again 8th of March was commemorated but that was not long lived and unfortunately no official celebration has taken place even though, women organisation have always commemorated the day in secret and in their homes and have inspired to continue.

With the beginning of the reforms and, assumptions to move towards civil society, once again 8th of March came out of private into the public arena. Women’s Day was commemorated first time in 1999 in a cultural institution known as Share Ketab (Book City) with the help and sponsorship of publishers such as Tose’e and Roshangaran and a few independent minded women and the out come was establishment of "Women’s cultural centre" which oversaw a larger commemoration for the year after. Since then universities and student cultural centers and women and student activists have been adding to this gathering and celebration each year not only in terms of quantity but most importantly in terms of quality too.

In 2000 8th of March has been celebrated by different associations not only in Tehran but in different towns and cities such as Esfahan, Tabriz, Varamin, Semnan, Zanjan, Sanandaj and by women prisoners and hence it is attracting more and more people as it is taking its place as a very special and important day.

In 2002 for the first time 8th of March was commemorated in the open in one of the main parks in Tehran known as Laleh park,which called for an end to inequality and called for equality and world peace and justice.

Women’s cultural centre did start a 6 month campaign against violence towards women, which with the help of other women organization worked towards taking the message to the public.

This gathering was banned by the government but the ban was overturned by the people and demonstrators were bitten up by the security forces.

The inspiration of the International Women’ Day is moving on with hundreds and thousands of small and big achievements and hence one of the achievements that can be mentioned is commemoration of Sedigheh Dolatabadi library which started work in 2004.

In 2005 8th of March women gathered in another park in Tehran known as Student’s park and they were greeted by a more ferocious force than the year before by the security forces but what was important was to get the message across that one of the aim’s of International Women’s Day is that women have the right to use the same space and authorities should listen to their demands.

After that the gathering takes place in front of the Islamic parliament which again the demonstrators were bitten up and arrested hence the actions taken by women and equality activists managed to persuade the courts to overturn any verdict passed by them and freed the arrestees unconditionally.

Commemoration of the International Women’s Day started from closed area to the streets and to the community but the male chauvinists are incapable of listening to women’s issues and the only way for them was attacking women and biting them.

Currently women’s issues are considered as social problems and it is accepted by the public hence when the authorities claim that they "have no problem with women’s issues" this means that they officially accept the issues put forward.

Conscious women can not tolerate the inequalities and the discrimination, hence the struggle continues.

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