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Travel Log to Simone de Beauvoir’s City / Simin Behbahani

Saturday 31 January 2009, by admin

Feminist School:

August 2006:

The shadow of red sunset had spread on top of the walnut tree in front of my window and disappearing in to the sorrowful darkness and sluggishly becoming colourless

Mansoureh Shojaee arrived with her usual cheerfulness and announced that the brave Iranian women who want equality, the group of 50 are to set the motions that would begin the movement to start the campaign. A campaign that would find itself joined by 1 million women and men in signing the deed for justice and rights for women in Iran.

I was delighted and promised that I would accompany them with all my might my heart and soul, it was a strong aspiration but women’s aspiration is stronger.

October 2006:

Mansoureh Shojaee announced that the campaign is towards achieving success. The youth, the old, the girls and the boys have joined and are in the process of door to door canvassing and are discussing and debating. People are receptive the campaigners are conquering cities and villages and for their sisters and mothers explain their rights and how it should be and how women joined by men should build our beloved country Iran and how they can participate in deciding their destiny.

Two years have passed and now the world hears Iranian women’s voice .Iranian women won the simone de Beauvoir prize and this is a big honour. Such honour was not gained easily, women who collect signatures sometimes are faced with violence ,threats and some times with arrest and jail.but the problems have not deterred women.

Wednesday January 7,2009:

Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani and Mansoureh Shojaee informed about the simone de Beauvoir’s prize whichawarded to Iranian campaign for one million signatures also they said women from different groups asked me to be their representative to participate and receive the award in Paris .No greater honour has been bestowed on me !

Early morning January 20,2009:

Parvin Ardalan and Nahid Mirhaj arrived to accompany me to the airport, there was not time left everything was in order and I was tired from my 3 day trip, with all the discussions and explanations and all the interviews had taken their toll on me but all the joy that this had created for the women of my country nothing could stop me from going.

Paris January 21,2009:

At 11 o’clock I found my self in the large room at Café Les Deux-Magots which had allowed in as many French and Iranian people as it could for the ceremony, I found my friends from university Abdolkarim Lahiji and Daryoush Ashouri,then i visited Iraj Pezeshkzad ,Goli Taraghi and Mohammad Jalali Kimeh (M.Sahar) the poet,Ahmad Ahrar ,Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam and his assistant Sussan Ziaee, Vida Hajebi , Atefeh Gorgin ,Noushabeh Amiri ,Sirous Malakouti ,Mohammad reza Shahid and others. I can’t forget the kindness of Shahla Shafigh and her husband Reza Nasehi .

I received the award with pride but according the decision of members of campaign the prize money which we were presented with, we presented it back to the Simone de Beauvoir foundation and we will allow them to use any way they see fit. Slight notion of happiness, prays from the press to the world and I say it was an honour and a victory for us.

I would like to thank Mrs Julia Kristeva , Feminist Philosopher and the founder and head of the Simone de Beauvoir prize committee, and Mrs Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir ,adopted daughter of Simon de Beauvoir, and Mrs Christine Albanel , culture and communication minister of France , and the publisher Editions Gallimard, Claude Lanzmann, Anne Zelensky, Annie Sugier, Yolanda Patterson, Danièle Sallenave, Claire Etcherelli, Lilane Kandel, Bjorn Larsson, Josyane Savigneau, Annie Ernaux, Elizabeth Fallaize, Ayse Kiran, Linda Weil-Curiel, Anne-Marie Lizin, Michel Kail, Gérard Bonal, Annette Lévy-Willard and Madeleine Gobeil-Noel who have honoured our campaign and have bestowed on me to take the message of their kindness back.

January 24 ,2009:

With my son,Ali we arrived at Tehran airport .Sussan Tahmasebi ,Nahid Mirhaj ,Aida Saadat and some of the young girls and boys were waiting for us .The joy and happiness shown at the airport was benign and we arranged to meet on Sunday.

Sunday January 25,2009:

Sunday arrived and nearly 50 of the ladies were present the prize was taken out of its case and placed proudly to be seen. The clapping and joyous screams ended and we all spoke of our wishes and future and thoughts, and hope that our hopes would last and our wishes would come true and we go from strength to strength.

-Simin Behbahani

- Tehran January 28,2009

Source in Persian: feminist school

photo: Arash Naimian

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