Omid Memarian

Friday, May 07, 2004

The similarities between Iranian civil society and European civil society especially in women NGOs

I had an interview with Simon Susskind President of the Brussels-based organization 'Actions in the Mediterranean' and also an advisor to Belgian deputy prime minister and justice minister Laurette Onkelinx... She had implemented many projects about dialogue between women in many countries. They have an exchange program between Iranian women and Belgian women in next month with my institute. I will publish the complete interview in a Persian newspaper next week. But here is a part of it in English (Only two question and answers). Thank you Simon for your kindness and sorry if it is not high quality edited...

1-Do you think that there are any common points in the Iranian and the European civil society?

You know I am astonished to discover once again. There are many common points between women In Iran and Europe. Until this morning that we met Dr. Jaleh Shadi Talab and she told us how long and how difficult it was for her to establish the women’s study center at university of Tehran. She was telling that when Mrs. Habibi started working as an advisor of president Rafsanjani , she said listen we had one home and now we have two homes .she explained that to get to this women center , she had a fight to get it. They wanted to reach and …. But they wanted a center, a women study center. So at the end, she explained they how had got the agreement of the minister of the education. She had a copy rushed to the president of the university, and finally she said that we will give you one home and he said that we are not giving you any funding ,and you have to have it your self , then she started to find the funding . And then she said that you have to attention to the rules, and she did it. And it is exactly what happened in Europe .it is not different at all. The same fight is going on in Europe .here people believed that we have achieved any thing in Europe. I will give you an example We had once in Belgium, a woman who became a minister in Sweden. She called Ana Lind. She came for a conference. We organized the conference on parity between men and women in Belgium. And she told us that in Sweden they had more women than men in the government. They have 43 % of women in the parliament .but in the field of university professors, 10% of women there are .and so on …. So we had much to do to push the women in these fields like university and …. There is always something that we have to do. And it is also very interesting that some women were saying “what we have achieved for instance”. Really we don’t have women in government, but we have achieved in the medium level a lot. Women in academia, in civil society, we have developed very much in the last year. And this is also very important. So I see many similarities, the tone is different but the way is the same….

2-Are there any differences between instruments that women use?
May be this is an advantage. We blow the principle that we are equal. I will give you an example. When I finished my studies at university, it was 1970; the women were not allowed to open a bank account without organization of their husbands. So it is not such a long time, so what we are fighting now, one of the men fought in Europe for instance is two fights. One fight is to get in the political decision making. We are fighting for the parity. We believe that it is important to have equal number of women in the parliament or in the government. This is one fight. The other fight which is not less important is to have agenda mainstreaming, which means that in all levels of the social body, you have taking the consideration this issue of the equality between the men and women. But this is not against men; it is going together with the men. So these are priorities actually of women in Europe. You must know also, until now in Europe, for equal positions, in general, women are 20% less than men, professionally. They have salaries, 20 %, less than men for the same qualification. So this is an important objective also. I see similarities, which are same issues I can see. Also the same awareness I can see in Europe, In the Arab world, in Iran, every where. And I believe that we have to reinforce the networking at the national level. Women have understood that they had common priorities in the society, with the differences or the specifies. The objectives are very similar.


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