The Tuesday For Women/Mansoureh Shojaee
Friday 11 March 2011, by
Feminist School:Today is Tuesday, March 8th, 2011, another Womenâ€™s Day Tuesday, and coincides with the second Tuesday of the Green Movement protests. Womenâ€™s call for equality is interwoven with a general cry for democracy on one and the same day; a Tuesday which belongs to women alone, is designated for a pro-democracy protest as well.
Today, all over the world, a celebration is due to the one hundred years of International Womenâ€™s Day, though in my country so many women are kept behind bars just for raising the very same demand whose achievement has led totodayâ€™s celebration, equal rights for women. Nasrin Sotoudeh, Bahareh Hedayat, Mahdiyeh Golroo, Alieh Eghdamdoost, Nazanin Khosravani, Zinat Jalalian, Hengameh Shahidi, Mahsa Amrabadi, and Fakhri Mohtashamipour and many other women are behind bars, put away and cut off from their families, friends and communities, either convicted or are awaiting to receive their heavy sentences for the crimes which is being celebrated today.
Today is Tuesday March 8th, and for the first time, this International Womenâ€™s Day in Iran is endorsed and supported by men, political and non-political groups equally. We owe this success to the continuous effort of all the women involved in the women movement since one hundred years ago and in particular the last twenty years, twenty years of terror and violence. We owe it also to the first woman who was killed for demanding equality: Tahereh Qorat ol-Ein, a legendry poet and an iconoclastic woman who, when facing the death sentence said: You can kill me soon as you like, but you can never stop womenâ€™s progress and their struggle to attain freedom. That day will arrive soon and you can not stop it.â€ (1) These were the last words of the first martyr who fought for womanâ€™s liberation and equality. She declared the coming of the women emancipation movement one hundred sixty years ago. She was killed for it by the ruler of the time.
She went, but the seeds of her words grew green in the aftermath of the fraudulent election of 2009, and further blossomed in the red blood of Neda in streets of Tehran.
Today is Tuesday, March 8th. For years on this day, we start our history by recanting the bravery of Parisian women marchers during the French Revolution who marches to the Versailles to obtain their rights. We start our story by talking about the legendry organized movement of textile workers in New York in 1875, demanding equal wages. Proudly we echoed Clara Zetkinâ€™s speech in 1889 delivered in a women’s conference delivered in Holland against the war; or we talked about the textile women workers in March 1908. But now, thanks to our young feminist friends of last two decades, talking about the history of the women’s movements, we can proudly locate our own place in this history as well.
Now we rank among the natives in this territory for marching for liberation and equality. We can talk about the â€œharbinger of womenâ€™s well-beingâ€ that celebrated March 8th for the first time in Iran, in the city of Rasht in 1920. (2)
Yes, we are now native in this territory, and we talk about our contributions to the history of women’s movements as many others did before to us.
Yes, we talk about the massive demonstration of women in March 1980 to protest the mandatory veil, when our political, intellectual, and common men alike chose to stay silent. Yes, we can narrate many tales about our little gatherings during the first decade after revolutions, of the first public celebration of March 8th in the publishing house of Shahr-e Ketab in 2000, after 20 years of being ignored. We can talk about the little festival of the Women’s Cultural Center at the Artists’ House on March 8, 2001, and of memorable gathering at Laleh Park in 2000 to support women in countries involved in warfare. We recall the opening announcement of the Women’s Library in 2003 and the legendry protest of Simin Behbehani, the First Lady of Iranian Poetry, under the violent attack of police forces, at Studentâ€™s Park, during the celebration of Womenâ€™s day in 2006, and the gathering of women teachers and activists in front of the Parliament in 2007. We can talk about the Campaign of One Million Signatures and Simone De Beauvoir in 2008, and the formation of the Women’s Coalition for Presenting Their Demands during the Presidential Election in March 8th 2009. And of course, the Green Coalition of Women in 2010.
And now, amidst crisis and suppression, we are talking about the rainbow of green, red and white women over our countryâ€™s sky.
Yes, we are native now, though in exile! We are native even when we are far from our homeland, although with her love in our hearts, and when we talk about the other native tribes.
In our exile, we have pinned the black scarves of our Mourning Mothers to the white scarves of the Argentine Mothers. The memories of Dominican Butterflies are joined with the memories of our murdered butterfly Parvaneh [butterfly in Persian] Frouhar. We have erased the red blood of Neda from the soil of terror and violence by the respect and gratitude we pay to the grayish hair of Nawwal-al-Saadawi.(3). And finally, we have taken the light of our womanly love and compassion to the dark houses of the Green Ladies of our town.
We have fought, not with animosity and violence, not for taking booty, but by using language and culture. We fought by spreading a lavish table of womanly kindness and femininity to share our bread with the needs of one million other women. (4) Our guests at this table may not be well versed in the other womenâ€™s tales and their struggle for liberation and equality, but surely they all participated, shoulder to shoulder with men, to demand their trampled and neglected rights. They may know Clara Zetkin through a graphic satire by Noushin Ahmadi in the site Feminist School (5), and many perhaps do not know her yet, but surely they all walk along with the Green movement, with their own independent identity and their own historical heritage.
The guest at this lavish feast may not have followed the discussions that took place in the Second International Congress, but they know their own independent discourse well enough to convince the political men to see the necessity of coming to support them. For the first time the political men have come to talk about the womenâ€™s rights, of supporting a â€œfeminine Tuesday.â€ For the first time we hear that another tribune, beyond our own limited women tribunes, have tied the Tuesdays of Green movement protests to that of the Womenâ€™s Tuesday.
The guests at this feast may not have heard the story of the Dominican Sisters, but surely they all have come to the street, stood up to the authorities, and brightened the spirit of the town by their kind presence in memory of those women who were hung from the gallows of injustice, and in support of women prisoners, women under the constant threat, and those permanently left in prison, their fate undecided, women away from home and family, women with no support.
The celebration of a Tuesday by its own right, not only by virtue of the presence of Iranian women, but that of Egyptian, Tunisian, Libyan, Algerian, Yemenite women, is turned into a day of protest against the suppression of social and political movements.
The guest at this feast may be feminist at heart or not; they may be Muslims, or not; they may be women of faith, or not; but they are all committed to struggle for equality. It is fortunate that their campaign is on the same wavelength of the peopleâ€™s struggle for democracy, and indeed, it is more fortunate that a â€œGreen Tuesdayâ€ is tied to a Tuesday just for women alone, and they go hand in hand to fertilize this unkind land to become the embodiment of kindness.
Yes, today is Tuesday, a Tuesday devoted to the women of Iran and the world, who together have united their campaign for equality to that the democratic movements.
Translated by:Mina Zand Siegel