Organisation for Women's Liberation
Launched in London

The ceremony to launch the Organisation for Women's Liberation was held in London on Saturday December 14, 2002 among jubilant participants.

Mehrnoush Moosavi, the chair of the ceremony, began the meeting with these words: 'today will be a memorable day in the history of the women's struggle for freedom. We have come together to establish an organisation which will be a significant factor in the women's struggle for freedom and equality of men and women in Iranian society. Today will be a part of our history and memory.'

The Declaration of the Organisation for Women's Liberation was then read. The programme continued with a screening of a short film of the mass women's demonstration against compulsory veiling and women's oppression in Tehran in 1979. The documentary showed moving scenes of the women's struggle and protest in Iran right from the beginning of the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It showed a young generation of women who never succumbed to the veil and the violent religious laws against women. It showed that women were very clear and radical, had high expectations even 24 years ago. Their call moved the participants of the ceremony. Many of the participants in the launch had themselves taken part and were active in that demonstration. The young women in this film were shouting 'we did not make a revolution to go backwards!', 'Women's liberation is neither eastern nor western; it is universal!' or 'every moment I demand, under torture I demand, death or freedom!'

After the screening of the film, Azar Majedi the founder of the Organisation for Women's Liberation spoke. Azar Majedi is a well-known personality of the movement for freedom and equality of men and women. Majedi's thirty year experience is an asset of this organisation; she is a tower of strength for the progressive and equality seeking movement in Iran. She was an organiser of the 8 March celebrations in 1979 in Tehran; she was also one of two representatives of the 'Organisation for Women's Awakening' who was on the steering committee for the joint conference of various women organisations which took place in Tehran Polytechnic University in the fall of 1979. Since 1984, she has been the driving force behind such important conferences such as Medusa's conferences. She has established the Centre for Women and Socialism. She is the editor of Medusa journal and the chair of the Middle East Centre for Women's Rights. She has written and published extensively on the issues of women's liberation and translations of her writings in English, Swedish and German have been warmly received.

Azar Majedi began her speech by reiterating the importance of forming the Organisation for Women's Liberation in the current political climate in Iran. She also emphasised the necessity of providing leadership, guidance and centralising the activities of a mass and progressive and equality seeking movement. She said: 'Imagine for a moment if our views, plans, activities and platform for realising the struggle against the oppression of women were absent, how the women's movement would have been taken for a ride by other political movements and groups.'

Azar Majedi ended her speech by calling on all women, young girls and all of the militants for the freedom of women to join the organisation. She said: 'Any girl who faces this question of why I cannot do what boys are allowed to do has a place in this organisation. Membership and participation in liberation from oppression is simple in this organisation. This organisation must become a mass organisation of masses of women against the oppression of women.'

Azar Majedi was presented with a bouquet of flowers. In presenting the flowers, Mehrnoush Moosavi said: 'Allow me to present this as recognition of Azar Majedi's efforts to establish this organisation and for her unceasing and brave struggle to lead and guide this struggle.'

Mina Ahadi was the next speaker. Mina Ahadi is a well-known personality both in Iran and abroad. In recent years she has taken part in important conferences. Mina Ahadi is the founder of the International Committee against Stoning which is an international network of more than 200 organisations and institutions. In her speech, Mina Ahadi said: 'The formation of the Organisation for Women's Liberation is a significant means for bringing about change in the condition of women in the society.' Mina Ahadi called on all women and those who have heard the news of the formation of this organisation to join its ranks.

Following Mina Ahadi's speech, sections of letters of support that had been received from Tehran was read. In one of the letters it was said: 'Dear Ms. Majedi, Please accept my and my husband's warmest compliments for your humanist efforts. As one of the millions of women who has suffered long years of religious and reactionary misogynist laws, I send you greetings in establishing the Organisation for Women's Liberation and announce my and my husband's readiness to work and cooperate with you.'

In the next section of the programme, representative of various organisations and institutions who are active in various aspects of the struggle for women's rights announced their support for the Organisation for Women's Liberation. Parvin Kaboli, the International Campaign in Defence of Women's Rights in Iran, Halaleh Taheri, the Centre in Defence of Women's Right in Kurdistan, Azam Kamguyan, Committee in Defence of Women's Rights in the Middle East and Sarah Mohamad, Never forget Pela and Fatemeh gave messages of support.

The ceremony ended with Azar Majedi responding to the questions of the audience.

: Mehrnoush Moosavi