Omid Memarian

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Extensive Planning for International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day falls on March 8 and it is commemorated by different social and political groups in Iran. There had been a difference of opinion between government officials and civil groups on how to celebrate the day. But still, this year's programs seem to be more comprehensive than previous ones.

It seems that Iran's civil society is well-connected with international civil societies and is thus putting more efforts into utilizing the existing potential of women's day. Seminars, panels and gatherings to express appreciation for women activists have been planned. Rumors have it that the hardline ministry of science, research and technology has not issued permits for the groups to carry out their activities on university campuses. And while this rumor has not been officially denied, women activists are putting their best to remove the “ban”. More than five universities in Tehran and other cities have not been given permission to hold women's day gatherings.

One important gathering is in Daneshjou (student) park in Tehran. In solidarity with women around the world and the elimination of inequality, discrimination and violence, and the establishment of peace, justice and freedom, a group of Iranian women will gather in the park on Wednesday march 8. This gathering will be a symbolic effort to remind the importance of cooperation among women’s groups that are active in different spheres. "Supporters of Women's Global Movement in Iran, WMW, are sponsors of this particular event.

In another initiative the Iranian Women website along with non-governmental organizations and "Rahi" institute will hold an event titled "Eight to Eight", standing for March 8 of last year to March 8th of 2006. Another series of events organized by Shadi Sadr, an Iranian journalist and social activist, is going to be continuously held from 8am to 8pm on the day. Rahi institute, which is active in women's affairs and aims at strengthening women NGOs, will offer legal advice to women and non-government training organizations.

This year's events in Iran appear better organized than those of previous years. Organizers have certainly attracted more women and social activists and, despite police interference in the gatherings in parks, such activities have created more motivation and initiations for future women's movements. One of the characteristics of these events in Iran is the organizer's tendency to focus on the elite. But still, despite the indifference of national media and government publicity of the event, these programs have attracted more women than in the past, according to the organizers.

March 8th is also going to be celebrated in other Iranian cities. Sayeh Cultural Association has offered details of these events on its website (http://saayeh.,ihanblog.com/Post-75.aspx). Iranians in Europe, the US and other parts of the world are also planning to celebrate international women’s day.

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