Women drive change

Shirin Ebadi; 8/11/09; The Australian, No Internet Text

No one is more driven to secure democracy for Iran than its women, writes Shirin Ebadi in The Guardian. “Iran today is a country where women are more educated than their male compatriots … Even the present parliament, which is monopolised by hardliners, has 13 women members.” Yet the Islamic Republic has passed laws that repress women.
“A man may marry up to four wives and divorce them whenever he desires … The life of women is worth half of the man’s life in terms of blood money. During a trial, a declaration by a man is worth twice that of a woman … Should the health minister wish to attend a meeting of the World Health Organisation, she must receive her husband’s assent”
Many campaigners against the laws have been prosecuted, but this has not subdued them. “Following the June presidential elections, women of all ages took part in demonstrations against the official results. Armed forces shot dead a young woman, Neda Soltan. She has now become a symbol of the Iranian demand for democracy. Women are at the forefront of this struggle, well aware that they will obtain equality only within a truly democratic political order.”