Labour, women’s rights, political and social activists outside of Iran have come together to support the historic Woman, Life, Freedom Charter of Minimum Demands of twenty independent trade union and civic organisations in Iran issued on 14 February 2023. Emphasizing the significant role of social movements and the right of the Iranian people to shape their future, the Charter shows the way towards a new, modern and humane society. We call on progressive forces everywhere to support this significant document.
فعالان کارگری، حقوق زنان، سیاسی و اجتماعی خارج از ایران گرد هم آمده اند تا از منشور تاریخی «زن، زندگی، آزادی مطالبات حداقلی که در 14 فوریه 2023 توسط بیش از 20 اتحادیه مستقل کارگری و سازمان مدنی در ایران صادر شده است، حمایت کنند. منشور با تأکید بر نقش مهم جنبش های اجتماعی و حق مردم ایران در شکل دادن به آینده خود، راه را به سوی جامعه ای جدید، مدرن و انسانی نشان می دهد. ما از نیروهای مترقی در همه جا می خواهیم که از این سند مهم حمایت کنند.
Free and noble people of Iran!
On the 44th anniversary of the 1979 revolution, the country’s economic, political, and social structures have fallen into such depths of crisis and disarray that it is impossible to imagine any clear and realisable prospect of resolution within the framework of the current political superstructure.
As a result, the oppressed people of Iran, the women and young people demanding freedom and equality, have transformed streets across the country at extraordinary risk to themselves into the scene of a historic, pivotal battle to end the prevailing inhumane circumstances. Over the course of the past five months, despite bloody state repression, they have not stopped for an instant.
Today the banner of the revolutionary protests is raised by women, university students, high school students, teachers, workers, justice seekers, artists, queers, writers, and all the oppressed peoples in Iran. This banner is being raised across the country, from Kurdistan to Sistan and Baluchestan, and attracting unprecedented international support. This is a protest against misogyny and femicide, and sex-based discrimination, interminable economic insecurity, the bondage of the labour force, poverty and misery and class oppression, and persecution along national and religious lines. It is a revolution against all the forms of religious or non-religious dictatorship and despotism, inflicted upon the people of Iran.
These transformative protests emerged from widespread and progressive social movements and the uprising of an undefeatable generation determined to bring an end to a century-long history of backwardness and the marginalisation of the dream for a modern, free, and prosperous Iranian society.
After the two great revolutions in modern Iranian history, it is now the prevalent progressive social movements, such as the labour movement, the teachers’ and pensioners’ movements, the movement of equality-seeking women, students, youth, the movement to abolish the death penalty, and others, which are now in a historically significant position to shape the formation of political, economic and social institutions of the nation from the grassroots.
As such, this movement aims to bring an end to the imposition of power from above and to initiate a social, progressive and humane revolution for the liberation of the people from all forms of oppression, discrimination, exploitation, and dictatorship.
We independent trade union and civic organisations and institutions have signed this Charter, with a focus on the unity and solidarity of social and labour movements, and thus have formulated our minimum demands. We focus on the struggle that aims to end the existing inhumane and destructive conditions, which dominated the daily realities of the people of Iran. We consider the realisation of the minimum demands below to constitute the primary directives and outcomes of the people’s revolutionary protests, as well as the sole way to establish a new, modern, humane society in the country. We ask all those committed to freedom, equality and liberation to raise the banner of these minimum demands and spread it from the factory and university to schools and neighbourhoods as well as globally. Our demands are as follows:
1. The immediate and unconditional freedom of all political prisoners, the decriminalisation of political, labour and civic activism. All those who took part in the repression of people’s protests must face immediate prosecution.
2. Unconditional freedom of belief, expression and thought, freedom of the press, political parties and local and national labour and grassroots groups, freedom to organise, strike and demonstrate, and freedom of social media, as well as audio-visual media.
3. An immediate abolition of execution, retribution, and banning all forms of psychological and physical torture.
4. The immediate declaration of full equality between women and men in all political, economic, social, cultural and family spheres; the unconditional abolition of laws and forms of discrimination based on gender and sexual orientations and identity, official recognition of the LGBTQIA+ community, decriminalisation of all sexual orientations and identities, and unconditional adherence to women’s rights to make decisions about their own bodies and affairs, and the prohibition of enforcement of patriarchal control over their bodies.
5. Religion is a private matter for individuals and must not play a role in the country’s political, economic, social and cultural decisions and laws.
6. Workers’ safety, job security, and immediate wage increases for workers, teachers, employees and all active and retired workers with the presence, involvement and agreement of representatives chosen by their independent nationwide organisations.
7. The abolition of laws and all treatments based on discrimination and oppression along national and religious lines, and the creation of an appropriate infrastructure to support the just and equal distribution of state resources for cultural and artistic growth in all parts of the country, in addition to the creation of necessary and equal facilities for teaching and learning all of the languages present in Iranian society.
8. The dissolution of all repressive apparatus, limitation of the powers of government, and the continuous and direct involvement of the people in the handling of the nation’s affairs through local and national councils. The right to impeach and remove governmental and non-governmental office holders at any time must be a basic right of the electorate.
9. Confiscation of the assets of the natural and juridical persons and governmental, semi-governmental and private entities which have pillaged the shared assets and wealth of the people of Iran either directly or indirectly. The proceeds of these confiscations must immediately go towards the modernisation and reconstruction of the educational system, pension funds, the environment and for sustaining the needs of those pushed to poverty under the Islamic and the previous monarchist regimes.
10. An end to environmental degradation, the implementation of decisive policies to revive environmental assets damaged over the past century, and the restitution to the public of all natural areas (including fields, beaches, forests and foothills) of which privatisation has deprived the public of their rights to them.
11. The banning of child labour and guarantees for the livelihoods and education of children regardless of their family’s economic and social status. The creation of universal welfare through robust unemployment insurance and social security for all working adults and those unable to work. Free education and healthcare for all people.
12. The normalisation of foreign relations at the highest levels with all countries worldwide, on the basis of mutual respect and equitable relations. Prohibition of nuclear weapons and striving for global peace.
In our view, these minimum demands can be immediately achieved with Iran’s current and potential rich natural and other resources, its aware, capable people, and a generation of youth and teenagers highly determined to enjoy free, happy, and prosperous lives.
The demands set out in this charter represent the main themes of our demands, the signatories to this charter, and we will address them in more detail as we continue our struggle and solidarity.
– Coordination Council of Iranian Teachers’ Trade Associations
– The Free Union of Iranian Workers (@AzadEttehad)
– Union of University Organisations of United Students
– Defenders of Human Rights Centre
– Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane Workers’ Union
– Organising Council for Contract Oil Workers’ Protests
– House of Teachers of Iran (Khaafa)
– Voice of Iranian Women
– Independent Voice of the Ahvaz Steel National Group
– Defenders of Workers’ Rights Centre (@kanoonmodafean)
– Trade Association of Kermanshah Electrical and Metal Workers
– Coordinating Committee for Assistance in Creating Workers’ Organisations
– Union of Retirees
– Iran Retirees’ Council
– Organisation of Progressive University Students
– Council of Freethinking Students of Iran
– Alborz Province Painters’ Union
– Committee for the Pursuit of Creating Workers’ Organisations of Iran
– Council of Retirees of the Social Security Administration (Basta)
On the occasion of
International Women’s Day 2023
Woman Life Freedom Revolution
The Woman Life Freedom revolution that has started since the state murder of Mahsa (Zhina) Amini is a revolution to overturn the existing system rooted in repression, discrimination, reaction and misogyny. We had predicted that the prospect facing the people, who have been exasperated by poverty, lack of rights and repression, would be an immense political, social revolution in which women would be one of the main pillars; that women would remain at its forefront as the motive force of the protests; and that by smashing the Islamic hijab, chastity and Islamic laws, they would shake up the foundations of the ruling power.
The Woman Life Freedom revolution took place in September 2022 so as to put an end to the whole system of legal, state and judicial misogyny, thereby also aiming to free the whole Iranian society from oppression, injustice and discrimination. Now the world calls our revolution the first women’s revolution in human history, representing an immense, historic renaissance against religion and misogyny; a revolution that by putting an end to the regime of gender apartheid, will no doubt have an important impact not only on the situation of women, but on the whole Iranian society, the Middle East and even the world; a revolution that will no longer let any force to regard women’s human identity, dignity, thoughts and bodies as the property of the “man”, the “family”, the “state” and the “nation”. We want the victory of this revolution to result in an end in inequality, women’s oppression and sexual slavery in all its forms, and to usher in women’s liberation from all forms of reaction.
We the signatories to the Charter of Iranian Women’s Progressive Demands, while continuing with the fight for the complete victory of our revolution, and while declaring our link and solidarity with other protest movements that have played a decisive role in this immense historic revolution, believe that women and the people of Iran, whatever their ethnic or linguistic background, are entitled to progressive, modern and secular demands, based on the latest achievements of those progressive and universal movements. We fight towards the formation of a government that guarantees those demands, the key among which are:
- Freedom of dress and abolition of compulsory hijab
- Complete abolition of gender segregation at all levels of society, from public transport to education centres and public spaces
- The separation of religion from the state, the judiciary and education; abolition of religious classes and prohibition of religious ceremonies, including (the Islamic) Taklif ceremonies (performed particularly for girls at age 9, regarding them now as adults with Islamic duties, such as marriage)
- Freedom of thought, belief and expression; freedom of religion, of not having a religion and being an atheist; abolition of official religion
- Abolition of guardianship over women; recognition of women as human beings with an independent identity, free to decide over their individual and social life, their life style, their sexual orientation towards the opposite sex, the same sex or both sexes, as well as over the type or form of their relationship, emotional or sexual, without the interference of natural or legal persons
- Unconditional equality of women and men in the use of public spaces, including sports stadia
- Ensuring the sexual, physical and psychological security of women at all times and in all social spaces
- Prohibition of the virginity test
- The right to travel and leave the country
- Unconditional equality of women and men on legal, social, educational, sports, political, economic and judicial levels, and in elections and standing for office
- Equality in all labour and social welfare laws; equal pay for similar work, with due regard to legal provisions for periods of pregnancy and childbirth
- Menstrual leave and access to free period products
- Adequate unemployment insurance, sick pay and pension
- The right to living together, including through ‘white marriages’ (cohabitation), without the interference of religion, the state or any natural or legal persons
- The issuing of birth certificate to all children without exception
- Abolition of polygamy; abolition of sighe (Islamic sexual relations with women in exchange for money)
- Full equality in family laws, including in the running and management of all matters relating to housework, care of the children, finance and any other matters that concern the couple jointly; the revoking of all the privileges granted to man as the so-called ‘head of the family’
- Women’s access to free contraceptives and screening tests during pregnancy
- The right to safe abortion
- Equal right of divorce and custody of children
- Criminalisation and legal penalisation of any form of physical, mental and verbal violence and abuse, and any form of humiliation and restrictions on women in any field, under any religious, traditional, patriarchal and ‘honour-based’ pretexts
- Criminalisation and penalisation of honour killings
- Criminalisation and penalisation of rape and sexual abuse
- Putting an end to inequality imposed on women in the name of honour, and removal from written and verbal literature of labels such as miss, lady and sister which define women on the basis of virginity or lack of virginity, single or marital status or existing taboos
- Prohibition of hijab for children
- Free and equal education for all children without exception
- Prohibition of marriage of children under the age of 18; prohibition of selling children and women, including in khoon-bas (cease-blood)
- Recognition of the third gender, and citizenship rights and security for transgender people; the revoking of the legal compulsion for gender reassignment.
Woman, Life, Freedom
Signatories, in alphabetical order:
Yasaman Aryani – Civil and women’s rights activist
Shabnam Ashouri – Labour and child workers’ activist
Aliyeh Eghdamdoost – Women’s and labour rights activist, former political prisoner
Kokab Bodaghi Pegah – Teachers’ activist
Nosrat Beheshti – Retired teacher, women’s and workers’ rights activist
Rezvaneh Khan Beigi – Former political prisoner, author, civil rights activist
Elham Rasouli – Women’s rights and child workers’ activist
Narges Zarifian – Women’s rights activist
Monireh Arabshahi – Civil rights activist
Mahboubeh Farahzadi – Retired teacher
Fariba Fereydoni – Civil rights activist
Pouran Nazemi – Women’s rights activist and one of the signatories to the Women’s Statement calling for the resignation of Khamenei
7 March 2023
Translated from Farsi original (Explanatory notes in the brackets by the translator).