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12th June 2009: A day that belongs to Womenâ€™s & Green movement / Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani
Sunday 17 October 2010, by
Feminist School: It is one year since the â€˜Green Movementâ€™ was born, a broad movement which not only women as a mass formed its fringes but also engineered its structure and ensured its participation was fully utilised in practicalities of preparation and organisation and were able to transfer knowledge and experience of the womenâ€™s movement, which the most important element was â€˜avoidance of violenceâ€™ in the struggle.
The connection between the Womenâ€™s movement and the green movement has many dimensions but also organic, mainly because women constitute half of the population in the society (in every class, group or layer) hence it is only natural that women are amongst and midst of the social struggle, side by side with the men of that class, group and layers. The engine of the Green movement is the middle class from the cities and so is the main body of the womenâ€™s movement even though the demands have not changed since our mothers and grandmothers in the last 100 years of the Iranâ€™s history, which were more around the demands of the working class or the poor. Historically the demands of the Womenâ€™s movement in Iran, has always been around social or civil equality for example the movement for the right to education for girls, the right to vote. The Green movement like the womenâ€™s movement is based or around the same demands (the right to vote and free elections). As one of the main characteristics of Iranâ€™s womenâ€™s movement is â€˜against or avoidance of violenceâ€™ the same characteristic has been mirrored in the Green movement as well as the connotations of communication and use of family network to spread information and achieve progress in its democratic demands.
Many specific and common characters can be found between the Womenâ€™s and Greenâ€™s movement which make this relationship strong and inevitable and it is because of this strong link that many women activist in both movements in order to work more closer in an structured manner, found it necessary to form the â€˜The green union of womenâ€™s movement of Iranâ€™ on the 8th of March International Womenâ€™s Day and perhaps because of these common links that caused the 12th of June 2009 to be known as â€˜national solidarity day of Iranâ€™s womenâ€™. The 12th June took such a form precisely because the womenâ€™s movement had put so much time and effort in building the organisation structurally and after so many years of activity on the 12th of June with forming a coalition between many social groups in directing the demands towards â€˜rule of the lawâ€™ and â€˜rightsâ€™ and showing this by demonstrations.
The Green movement was born from the midst of the election climate with the purpose of defending peopleâ€™s right.
The Green movement and the materialisation of its base element
â€œWomen centre point of familyâ€
The fact is, in the Green movement many women do not relate to feminism, however, they relate strongly with their rights as women, they are conscious of the fact that they are treated as second class citizens. They are not alone in this civil struggle, they have the support of members of their family and hence women play the central or the pivotal role in the family, which changes the participation from individual to a broad base struggle against the dominant power. This defining factor, the broad base participation has strengthened the pivotal role of women, as appose to weaken it as some might argue. It is in the context of family â€œsocial and political insecurityâ€ which the stage or phase of the struggle is based on.
Stressing the point that women have not left or pushed out of the centre stage position in the overall struggle but the nature of the activity and the level of the struggle has changed, which is respondent to the current situation, such as the way or the manner of communication between the regime and the citizens or the split or the crack within the regime, so the new situation or the causality is dictating the new stage of the struggle. Even though at first the new stage might seem it is the traditional approach of what took place during the 1979 revolution, which diverted women from an independent struggle and made them the followers of men in their families in their struggle, but this time the difference is that womenâ€™s participation is as an independent entity who have joined the Green movement, hence this time women actually have or are setting the agenda for the struggle based on gender issues and this can be seen not just across the fringes of the movement but in its leadership and at the same time within the lower social layers.
If we, the womenâ€™s movement, placed equality in the form of statement or a discourse, then this discourse has now set itself as a model for â€œequality in the familyâ€ a model which promoted changes not just in the leadership but also in the whole movement.
Structural development in the leadership
In the history of modern Iran, the resistance against the attacks of the governments on civil society was formulated and organised by the â€˜familyâ€™ but in particular since the 1979 revolution the base of the resistance changed and placed men at its centre with many reasons of its own, such as cultural values, behavioural patterns, historical and economical but now in the social politics of today not only the main base of peopleâ€™s resistance is formed by the family again but at its nucleus, it is the woman who is leading. The symbols of resistance can be seen in some of the activistâ€™s families in the Green movement, even in its leadership. Regardless of the social and cultural and economical reasons, the new approach or what is apparent, is that the notion of singular male leadership has or is on the verge of withering away and is being replaced by the â€˜familyâ€™ such as Zahra Rahnavard and Mirhosein Mousavi, Fateme Karoubi and Mehdi Karoubi, Faeze Rafsanjani and Hashemi Rafsanjani.
During the course of last year, the incidents after the election, we have been witnessing that the majority of these families the women have had the leading role in the resistance and hence the reproduction of â€œequal familyâ€ model has caused the conservatives to concentrate their attacks on, say Zahra Rahnavard more than on Mousavi. The presence and the continued struggle of the women for Civil Equality is only a small part of the big picture of the development within the Green movement and the middle class families, but in essence this has been the unifying point of womenâ€™s movement with the Green movement which brought about the convergence of Green activists of the women movement. Other examples which shows the common links in the struggle and the womenâ€™s centrality are, â€˜Bereaved Mothersâ€™ â€˜Mothers for Peaceâ€™ as well as the publishing of the love letters of the imprisoned husbands to their wives and the â€˜solidarity committee of women against violenceâ€™, actions against hanging and demonstration in front of the notorious Evin prison.
The objective of using theses examples is to explain that all these actions and reactions which took place with coordination of the Green movement, were in fact influenced by joint efforts of the activists of the womenâ€™s movement.
Green Convergence and the collective of womenâ€™s movement
With the resurgence of the Green movement (a movement that placed â€˜Respect for the Right to Voteâ€™ as its central premise) various groups within the womenâ€™s movement chose their objective approach according to their own strength and capabilities, which meant that the movement as a whole was being strengthened. Without a doubt the dynamics of the movement attracts new forces and hence brings about new and fresh thinking which have social connotations and new potentials to move forward as one body.
However in times of violent suppression a different dimension is entered, by not having the luxury of time, stops us in following up what was agreed before and working on new agreements, makes that task or continuing in the old form impossible, as a result this causes different groups to tense up and regroup and participate accordingly, such as politically and socially, this in turn brings about the formation of new forces which are attracted to the movement.
In any case these are the cause and effects of the links or the formation of the coalition between womenâ€™s movement and the Greens in its specific and historical context, which also brought about the convergence of Greenâ€™s and womenâ€™s movement. Unfortunately some have begun scare mongering by drawing unrealistic comparisons on the essence of Green movement and the political Islamic movement and the danger of Womenâ€™s movement becoming political or on the discourse between the movements, which is being portrayed as being an instrument to use the womenâ€™s movement to their own end by the other movement. By questioning the coalition between the two movements it is intended to stop this formation so the movement does not progress further in order to find or work on increasing its networks and new ways of struggle.
What is true today, is that even though womenâ€™s movement is young but it has its history or an immaculate and dynamic portfolio and to be clear if the movement can not or does not increase its share of social networks then in effect it would rot from inside and would loose its central position of independence.
One point of order on the issue of the claims that womenâ€™s movement or its activists might be being taken advantage of, is a male discourse which sees women as juveniles and as such the movement sees or treats women as virgins who must be careful so when out in the society, it is not taken advantage or abused, therefore must not come out of their homes.
Seeing, identifying and connecting with new trends in a given social movement entails the ability to connect organically with the movement, in our case the connection with millions of women which without a doubt would make the transition of what is needed and the change easier and have a more logical and stable result.
On a more simplistic note, those sections in the womenâ€™s movement whom have a more steady and continues connection and who feel more responsibility towards the needs of the women in society, coordinate their moves and actions not only for women but also in accompaniment with women and have carried the flag for different actions in conjunction with the conditions of the society. This has been and is pivotal in the position of womenâ€™s standing in the move towards guarantying equality in the future changes. It also must be said the convergence of the Green and the womenâ€™s movement and none of the other actions deriving from the womenâ€™s movement is under the assumption or delusional that the Green movement would be able to fulfil all that women want or demand but as the premise of redressing the citizens right for free election is accomplished, then this would make our struggle to step up to a new level.
Source in Persian: