Monday, April 26, 2010

Letter by Iranian Women’s Rights Activists to Members of the United Nation’s Economic and Social Council

27 April 2010

Your Excellencies,
The shocking news of the Iranian government’s candidacy for membership in ECOSOC’s Commission on Statues of Women (CSW) has astonished women’s rights activists worldwide. According to the available information, ECOSOC members will vote on Iran’s candidacy for a vacant seat from the Asia region on 28 and 29th of April.
We, a group of gender-equality activists, believe that for promotion and development of women’s rights globally, an empty seat for the Asia group on CSW is much preferabe to Iran’s membership.
In the short time available before this vote takes place, the signatories to this letter express their protest and warn against the ramifications of Iran’s membership in this international body.
In recent years, the Iranian government not only has refused to join the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), but has actively opposed it. The Iranian government has earned the international recognition of a gross violator of women’s rights. The government, with discrimination against women codified in its laws, as well as in executive and cultural institutions, has consistently sought to preserve gender inequality in all places, from the family unit to the highest governmental bodies.
Aren’t the government’s actions and laws, as enumerated here, enough cause to demonstarte that the Islamic Republic of Iran does not believe in gender equality: Dicriminatory laws against women such as lack of ability to choose one’s husband, no independent right to education after marraige, no right to divorce, no right to custody, violent treatment of girls and women in public spaces, insitutting quotas for women’s admission at universities, arrest and imprisonments of peaceful women’s rights activists, etc.
In the past decade, many Iranian women’s rights activists have launched several campaigns to remove disriminatory laws and practices in social and political domains, which have affected the global women’s movement.
However, the only standard for membership at CSW appears to be regional quotas and not a government’s record on promoting and protecting women’s rights. A government, that according to much evidence and documentation, has no basic belief in gender equality, will persuit what goals at CSW? We wish to remind you that CSW’s mission is to remove gender inequalities and promote and protect the statues of women.
The Iranian government does not respect or implement the Beijing Decleration and Platform. In practice, this government has doen much to prevent the implementaion of this platform. After fifteen years of gains on this front worldwide, Iran believes that Beijing Platform has been failed.
In recent years, the government has actively sought to justify paternalism and gender-inequality under the guise of traditional values and cultural reletivism. Providing an international platform to such government is a serious threat to women’s rights globally, and not just in Iran.
We, a group of gender-equality activists, caution you that Iran’s membership in CSW is a serious threat to the goals and mission of this institution. The Iranian government will certainly use this oppurtunity to curtail progress and advancement of women.
We write this letter hoping that you will oppose Iran’s membership. If Iran’s membership at CSW is inevitable, then we urge you to require its government to make serious committments to international conventions on gender equality, particularly in implementing the Beijing Decleration and Platform and becoming a party to CEDAW.

please send your signature against this shocking news to the following address:

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