Paris, Feb. 26 An international conference entitled, "United against Fundamentalism and for Equality," was held in Paris yesterday on the initiative of several women's rights organisations to discuss the threat posed by fundamentalists to women's rights and status.
Over 1,000 political and human rights personalities and equality movement activists from Europe, the United States and the Middle East attended the conference. The event was sponsored by a number of organisations and personalities, including Ballymaurphy Women Center, Women's Trust, UNIFEM, National Association of Women's Organisations UK, European Network of Women, Collective Respect, Union of European Feminists, Women in Movement, Feminist Transports, Association in Solidarity with Kidnapped Mothers and Children, The Movement for Peace, The International League of Women for Peace and Liberty (the French section), Women for a New Europe, and the Association of Friends of Women Buses.
Seven female British parliamentarians, including Lady Herman, Chris McCafferty, Jane Griffiths, Julia Drown, Baroness Gould of Potternewton, Sandra Gildley and Valery Davey, were among the sponsors.
The keynote speaker was Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the Iranian Resistance, who said, "The Tehran mullahs and those with stakes in the status quo want us to believe that any serious change requires a foreign war, and the only alternative to war is to make a deal with the mullahs. But the Iranian Resistance believes that in place of 'appeasement or war', there is a third option, which represents the real path to change: change brought about by the Iranian people and Resistance".
Rajavi reiterated, "The decisive defeat of Islamic fundamentalist would be possible only through the pioneering role of women. For this reason, we underscore the need for the active and equal participation of women in political leadership".
Emphasising that women's rights are universal, Rajavi noted, "No one could use religious or cultural pretext or any other justification to distort women's rights, which are as universal as human rights, and deny their totality".
She added, "Since the onset of their rule, the mullahs have not spared any discrimination and oppression against women. On the contrary, they have strengthened misogynous laws every year. Indeed, the pillar of all social relationships and the laws of the state is oppression and discrimination against women".
Elizabeth Sidney, President of the Women's International Federation against Fundamentalism and for Equality; Francoise Héritier, a renowned French anthropologist and an honorary Prof. at College of France; Meili Faille, a member of the Canadian Parliament; and Emely James, a distinguished scholar on child and woman prostitution, also addressed the conference.
At the end of the conference, Maria Farantouri, a distinguished Greek singer performed for the audience. On the sidelines of the Paris conference, an exhibition on the plight of women in Iran was also organised.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran, an umbrella coalition of Iranian opposition groups, has elected Rajavi to serve as the interim-president of Iran during the transitional period after the fall of the current theocracy.
Separately on Thursday, the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning Iran's human rights violations and urged the European Union to sponsor a separate resolution, censuring Iran in the United Nations. It called for the appointment of a special representative be re-appointed to monitor the human rights situation in Iran.
The EP condemned "the serious increase in human rights violations, notably the growing number of reports about executions, including executions of juvenile offenders, amputations, flogging in public, a generalised crackdown on the press and media, widespread arrests especially of women and young people on unclear or minor charges".