Statement by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Iran on International Women’s Day 2015
In Iran under the Islamic Republic, unbridled attack on women’s individual and social rights and the continuation of gender discrimination against them has become a political necessity for regime’s survival. The more people turn away from religion and the more regime’s ideological bankruptcy becomes apparent, the more the rulers of the regime resort to their misogynic policies. Attacks on women and their rights under various pretexts such as non-compliance with Islamic regulations has become one of the pillars of regime’s policy of intimidation and subjugation of the society. The latest of these attacks was a chain of reactionary laws like ” Enjoining good and forbidding wrong”, ”protection for the undertakers of enjoining good and forbidding wrong” and the ”veil and chastity” plan with catastrophic consequences that included a series of acid attacks against Iranian women in late 2014. The Islamic regime is afraid that women’s participation in the labor market and their entry into higher education will provide more ground for the advance of women’s movement and for challenging the patriarchal culture of the society and the religious laws. As a result, it has intensified gender discrimination in the labor market as well as in higher education institutions.
The ”teleworking” plan which was an amendment to the labor law and which is in fact a plan to force more women to stay at home, has been carried out more widely during President Rouhani’s tenure. The plan which has been put in wide practice without being even ratified has pushed many working women out of the formal labor market and sent them into black markets. Part-time employment and early retirement policies for women as well as restricting and banning women from working in coffee shops and traditional Iranian restaurants are all efforts by the Islamic Republic to exclude women from public life, remove them from the labor market and send them home again. These discriminations in the labor market and in the heart of the current economic crisis have put enormous pressure on the working women who must work outside of their homes in order for them and their families to survive. However, these policies have failed to send women home, because in the heart of Iran’s current economic difficulties and with even two breadwinners working, families are unable to meet their basic needs. Even though women will experience in a more tangible and harsher way the discrimination and exploitation of the ruling class, but their growing presence in the labor market will give them a better position to challenge patriarchy as one of the pillars of the rule of the capitalistic Islamic regime in Iran.
In recent years as a result of the implementation of the reactionary plan of “gender-based quotas” in universities women have been denied, in an unprecedented way, the right to study in technical and engineering fields as well as languages, translation and social work. The result has been the exclusion of women from many academic disciplines. Regime’s change in population policy to increase population growth rate, which is another add to regime’s misogynistic policies, has had irreversible effects on women’s health due to the removal of free sexual and reproductive health services for women. Removal of these services not only has endangered women’s health in the poor layers and marginalized areas of the society on a wide scale, but has also increased the rate of unwanted pregnancies. This policy has caused painful social damage and made women’s status in the labor market more precarious. The Islamic Republic of Iran with its long record of misogynistic policies and practices ranks 137th among 142 countries on the Gender Inequality Index (GII).
The gender discriminatory policies and practices that constitute an integral part of the identity of the capitalist Islamic regime in Iran, have given the Iranian women's movement a very political nature to make it a strong pillar of the society’s struggle to overthrow the regime. When women’s failure in following the Islamic dress code and the visibility of their hair is considered defiance of the dominant ideology and when defending equal rights for men and women is considered endangering the whole system, the strategy of women's liberation struggle is inevitably tied to the overthrowing of the regime and the dismantling of its ruling class.
Despite these realities and while everyday struggle by the women, especially by the working women, against these injustices and the barbarity of the Islamic Republic continues, the Islamic and neoliberal feminists have picked up the strategy of the government reformists as their political compass. They discredit the struggle against the roots of women’s oppression and against the whole political system. They are practically trying to curb women’s movement to work within the current reactionary legal framework and be satisfied with some reforms and adjustments in the implementation of the existing laws. These tendencies are in practice only sacrificing the short and long term goals of the women’s movement for the survival of the capitalist, misogynistic Islamic regime. These same reactionary tendencies condemned the glorious resistance and the armed struggle by the women in Kobani against ISIS forces saying it ”escalated the violence”.
It is necessary in this situation that socialist activists in the women’s movement reveal the true nature of these tendencies and raise those demands that reflect the needs of the working and toiling women. Highlighting these demands and showing the path to their achievement is an important step towards engaging the working and oppressed women in the struggle for their rights. By focusing on some of the individual needs and rights of women, it might be possible to attract the attention of the middle-class women, but is not enough to mobilize the masses of the toiling and working women. In a society where poverty and economic injustice is so widespread and unemployment has become a social disaster, it is very important to point out the real roots of women’s oppression. When women’s second degree status is rooted in relationships that are profit-driven, any real improvement in women’s life and position will not be possible without attacking the profits of capital and its relationships. Providing unemployment insurance for all jobless women, removal of the obstacles that prevent women from entering the labor market, abolishment of all discriminatory laws against women in the workplace, creating nurseries in the poor and marginalized areas of the society so that women are freed from domestic work, all these are not possible without attacking the gains of capital. When working and toiling women start to rally behind these demands, then the emptiness and futility of the plans and strategies of the Islamic and neoliberal feminism will be also exposed.
Women’s movement as a political and social movement can break the chains of gender apartheid of the Islamic Republic and ensure its progress only by beating the different tendencies of bourgeois feminism, by working within a socialist framework and in alliance with the labor movement. The Communist Party of Iran cherishes March 8 as a symbol of international struggle for gender equality and calls upon all the socialist activists and leaders in the women's movement and the labor movement to commemorate this day with glorious ceremonies and events; a day which has also made a part of Iranian women’s liberation struggle during the past 36 years against the dictatorship of the misogynistic and capitalist Islamic regime.
Down with the Islamic Republic of Iran!
Long Live Freedom, Equality and Workers´ State!
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Iran
26 February 2015