the vice presidency for Women & Family Affairs Isalmic Republic Of Iran

Speech of Masoumeh Ebtekar to the International Council of Women

Sunday 23 September 2018 - 16:28

In the Name of God

It's a pleasure for me to address the 35th General Assembly of the International Council of Women held in Yogyakarta in Indonesia. Also, it is a pleasure for me to address Kowani, the Congress of Indonesian Women. I think that the subject you have chosen, Transforming Society through the Empowerment of Women, is a very important issue, very relevant and meaningful for all our societies.

As the Vice President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, who has served in the field of the environment for several years and is currently serving in the field of women and family affairs, I would like to stress upon the importance of empowerment of women for sustainable development. We believe women are major actors and an agent of change. They can bring about transformation in their societies if they are well educated with not only the science and knowledge necessary, but also with the skills necessary to bring about that change in their societies, economies, their different dimensions of their social development and social advancement.

I wish I could have joined you in your deliberations. My heart is with you, and I'd like to share today with you some of my views and also some of our experiences in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

As woman can be major agents of change and transformation, I think that you, different representatives of NGOs and organizations coming from different countries of the world, you are yourselves major agents of change for your societies. You are volunteers coming from volunteer groups who care about the future of your societies, the sufferings and the difficult situations that women and children in your societies might go through. Because you care, that means that you are alive and that something within you, within your spirit is still seeking for that peace, for that love, and for justice and this signifies, in fact, that you are alive for a very important reason and you are bringing about changes in your society which is very valuable. You care about livelihoods, the impoverished, those who are suffering and we know that in today's world, we have many societies where women and children are suffering, either due to poverty or disease or due to violence, war, or terrorism. I think that we should not forget the plight of the women and children of Rohingya, or the women or children of Yemen, or the women and children of Palestine, and many, many other societies. We should be the voice of the voiceless in this event and this is very important. We should understand their needs, predicaments, and sufferings and we should try to address these issues through more exchanges, more networking, we can mobilize resources, and we can mobilize our societies. This is an important part of that change and transformation that we can bring along.

This is very important because what you are looking for is more than the basic needs that every human being has. You are looking for something which will help you in terms of the pursuit that you have for happiness, justice, and peace for all of humanity. This is what makes your work very valuable. You are working to enjoin in what is good and refrain from what is wrong and to support the oppressed and stand up against the oppressors. This is a very important effort for righteousness.

 I am speaking from Iran, from the cradle of civilization and culture, and I would like you to stand  up for human dignity, justice, and all the values that humanity needs today to revisit and reunite together, and particularly to empower the women in our societies to stand for these values and to protect nations against aggression, terrorism, war, and sanctions and to enable nations to stand independently, particularly in the face of all those powers who are trying to bring people, women, children, and nations to their knees. It is important we stand up for justice, independence, and peace in today's world.

The point I would like to share with you about Iran is that our civil society is flourishing in spite of the challenges that we have, we have challenges like any other society to our democracy but in spite all these, we have about 50,000 registered NGOs working in Iran and many of them are working in the field of women and children. They are providing services and care, but also many of them are working for the environment, for nature conservation. Many are also active in health and education. So, this civil society is one of the areas we are working to empower and give them more opportunities so that they can play an important role in transforming our societies.

We have three major projects in this area. Our national dialogue on the family is a project where we are focusing on communication skills among family members, empowering family members to be able to engage in fruitful dialogue and conflict resolution. The other project is the economic empowerment of women in areas like ICT and IT, which can be used not only for training but also for marketing which is very important. Also, we are working on providing women with the necessary training in rural areas and in villages. Training on areas like handicrafts, tourism, and supporting entrepreneurship projects. These are all projects which are underway in Iran. Finally, our social resilience scheme is an important nationwide scheme to increase the social resilience in our society so that we would be able to withstand the different pressure which might occur in our societies and to enable those communities to face those challenges and difficulties. These are some of the different areas where we've been working in Iran.

I think that the process of transformation and betterment of our world begins from within ourselves. Before we come to peace within our hearts, minds, with our own selves, we will not be able to settle with others, we will not be able to engage in peace with other human beings or with nature. So peace in the world and peace with nature can be promoted by empowered women who have first come to peace and love in their hearts and minds.

So, I wish all the best for you in all your efforts. Thank you very much.  


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