Hivos International

Hivos Human Rights Day seminar: Human Rights and the Quest for Gender Equality in Iran

Sixty five years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations on December 10, 1948.To celebrate and mark the occasion, this last December 10, the Center for Supporters of Human Rights (CSHR) founded by Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi, together with Hivos, the Dutch foreign ministry and the University of Leiden, organised a panel debate on human rights, women’s rights and gender equality in Iran.   

Facilitated by Hivos, the opening speech was given by Alexandra Valkenburg of the foreign ministry, followed by presentations on human rights in a regional perspective by Prof. Erik- Jan Zürcher (University of Leiden), Masih Alinejad and Dr. Payam Akhavan. Dr. Seyyed Gohrab discussed the work of poet and women rights activist Simin Behbahani.

The event also addressed the struggle and experiences of women’s rights activists in Iran, both male and female, discussed by panel members Rezvan Moghadam, Kaveh Kermanshahi and Amir Rashidi.

The event concluded with speeches by the executive director of Oxfam Novib, Farah Karimi, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Shirin Ebadi. Farah Karimi discussed the worldwide impact of faulty justice and religious fundamentalism on women's rights achievements. Following a short introduction to CSHR’s activities, Dr Ebadi described the many human rights violations continuously occurring in Iran.

According to Ebadi, "the perception in the West needs to be changed and Western politicians must realise that we need political sanctions instead of economic sanctions" to bring about change and to pressure the Iranian government to respect the Universal Declaration of Human rights and the rights of its citizens.

A link to a video recording of her speech is in the right sidebar. (All videos from the event in the right sidebar are courtesy of the Persian Dutch Network.)

Hivos supports the activities of rights activists in Iran – and throughout the world – as part of our aim to promote and protect all human rights on the basis of existing international legal standards including those set by the United Nations and the Council of Europe.

Hivos believes in a world in which citizens and civil organisations can participate freely and fully in their societies regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or religious beliefs. Despite some progress at the global level, social justice still lies beyond the reach of many who cannot exercise their civil, political, economic and social rights. In fragile democracies and repressive states, we see rulers who violate basic human rights, ignore international legal agreements and manipulate elections.

By supporting different activities, organisations and strategies through our Rights and Citizenship programme, we try to address these problems and come closer to the world we envision.