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Maryam Rajavi speaks at International Women's Day event in Paris
On February 17, Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, addressed the conference "Women Force for Change, Iran Uprising and the Role of Women". During her address, she spoke about the role of women in standing up to the regime.

"Iran's uprising is not only for the overthrow of a political regime but is a revolt against religious fundamentalism. This would be a blissful dawn, not only for the people of Iran, but for all the peoples of the region and the world," said Rajavi.

She pointed out that women are systematically repressed by the regime, including the use of the compulsory veil, which is against the Koran and Islam. Rajavi also noted the fact that current Iranian President Rouhani has been active in taking away rights and services from women throughout the years of the regime.

A number of prominent women, including political leaders, lawmakers, jurists, judges, mothers of martyrs and women's rights advocates from 23 countries and 5 continents participated in the conference.

Part of Rajavi's focus was encouraging women to continue to resist the regime, and she also pointed out the role that women have already had in various protests to date.

"Women have not taken to the streets to demand anything from the regime; rather, they want to eliminate the clerical regime. Women have not risen up to demand only their own freedom; they have risen up to liberate the whole nation. As attested by the experience of the past 39 years, it is not possible to fulfill the most rudimentary demands of women under this regime, from abolition of the compulsory veil to the elimination of all forms of discrimination and inequality," said Rajavi.

She also mentioned that the regime fears the increasing role of women in the protests, seeing them as a force of change that could bring about the end of the regime. Rajavi also spoke of the regime's policy of misogyny, where women are oppressed, and men are taught to stand by in silence and be passive as it happens.

Rajavi encouraged men to stand up for women when they are attacked, to "never standby" while these attacks happen. As a result, she believes that men can support women against this religious dictatorship.

Historically, women have been executed for participating in demonstrations and protests by Iran. Rajavi spoke of multiple women who were executed in 1981 for participating in demonstrations and being members of the PMOI. Not all of these women were even 18 years old. She noted that in the years since, women have been targeted for torture and execution by the regime.

She praised their stand against Khomeini during the 1980s and the years since.

"By shattering the atmosphere of fear, repression, and disbelief, revive hope and courage in people, and reinforce the power of youth in confronting suppression. To continue the uprising, women from all walks of life need to form the bastions of rebellion and the councils of resistance in every city and village," said Rajavi.

Supporting the uprising is important to stopping the spread of fundamentalism, and Rajavi called on the international community of women to support Iranian women in their quest for freedom.

"Their courage is step forward against patriarchy," said Rajavi. "Any resistance against oppression…belongs to all of us."

She noted that the resistance of Iranian women is a step forward for all women. Then, Rajavi encouraged all women to encourage their governments to support the Iranian resistance and offer their support. Rajavi also called for the release of the protesters who were arrested by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the regime during the latest round of nationwide protests. Several individuals have died in custody after being arrested and there have been reports of torture, as the regime attempts to suppress the rights of assembly and freedom of speech.

Rajavi received several stand ovations during her speech, as the women and men in attendance showed support for her message.

Other speakers spoke about the impact of International Women's Day, but particularly about the situation in Iran. They noted that the regime has executed women, raped and tortured women, and done everything they can to repress Iranian women. No other nation has killed so many women as the regime noted the moderator.

Videos of the recent protests were shown as evidence that the Iranian people want regime change and are ready to do what is necessary to achieve it. Women had a unique role in the recent protests, which clearly had organization, despite the regime's attempts to minimize the protests and their size.

Women stood up and pointed out how the regime's corruption has resulted in economic issues for the Iranian people and discrimination against women. The regime noted that the protests had been organized months before and that they were a united front.

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