The world’s preeminent women leaders in business, politics, advocacy and the arts published an open letter in Sunday’s New York Times calling for the immediate removal of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) from the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).
Signatories of the letter include Sec. Hillary Clinton, Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland, Media Leader & Philanthropist Oprah Winfrey, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate & Education Activist Malala Yousafzai, Economic & Political Leader Christine Lagarde, former First Lady of the United States & advocate of girls education Michelle Obama, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, former Executive Director of UN Women, Christiana Figueres DBE, former head of UN Climate Change Convention, former First Lady of the United States & Education Advocate Laura Bush, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate & Human Rights Activist Nadia Murad and women in leadership positions from 14 countries (and counting).
This global effort—a partnership between Vital Voices, For Freedoms and a coalition of Iranian women leaders—comes amid more than 40 days of worldwide protests launched and led by Iranian women and girls after the tragic death of 22-year-old Mahsa Jina Amini. The protestors are demanding justice after Amini died on September 16, 2022 while in police custody. Amini was arrested by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s “morality police” for allegedly not complying with mandatory hijab laws.
Reports of extreme punishments and harsh crackdowns against protestors by Iranian authorities have flooded international headlines and social media feeds in the weeks since Amini’s death, gaining worldwide attention and scrutiny.
The group of women leaders who signed on to the letter came together in solidarity with Iranian women and girls with a clear call to action: the immediate removal of the Islamic Republic of Iran from the Commission on the Status of Women.
Within the first few days of going live, the letter received more than 21,000 signatures and growing. Additionally, more than 130,000 petitioners have also signed a letter asking for the same outcome on Change.org.
The open letter states: “We condemn the brutal violence of security forces against peaceful protesters … Earlier this year, to the dismay of women’s rights advocates around the world, Iran began a four–year term on the UN’s 45–member Commission on the Status of Women. This preeminent global body is exclusively dedicated to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. The Islamic Republic of Iran’s long–standing, systematic oppression of women should have disqualified them from election to the CSW.”
The letter also laments the Islamic Republic of Iran’s record on women’s rights, citing gender inequality and legalized discrimination against women regarding marriage, divorce, inheritance, child custody cases and attire. These restrictions include the mandate that requires women to wear head coverings at the onset of puberty.
The signatories of the letter warn that the violence and loss of life will continue without global intervention at the highest levels, and that the Commission on the Status of Women will lose credibility each day the Islamic Republic of Iran remains a member.
“This is a critical moment for leaders in the international community to vocally and unequivocally demonstrate their support for women’s rights by standing in solidarity with Iranian women and girls,” states the letter.
About Vital Voices Global Partnership
Now celebrating 25 years, Vital Voices Global Partnership has directly invested in more than 20,000 women leaders across 184 countries and territories since its inception in 1997. Driven by the universal truth that women are the key to progress in their communities and nations cannot move forward without women in leadership positions, Vital Voices has provided early support for leaders who went on to become Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, U.S. Youth Poet Laureates, prime ministers, award-winning innovators, pioneering human rights defenders, and breakthrough social entrepreneurs, including Amanda Gorman and Malala Yousafzai. In an effort to advance and expand this work, in 2022 Vital Voices opened the doors to the world’s first global embassy for women, the Vital Voices Global Headquarters for Women’s Leadership. It is a first-of-its-kind space that allows for convening, innovation, planning, and action—all in the pursuit of serving women leaders who are taking on the world’s greatest challenges.
About For Freedoms
For Freedoms is an artist collective that centers art and creativity as a catalyst for transformative connection and collective liberation.
By wielding the power of art, we aim to deepen and expand our capacity to interrogate what is and imagine what could be.
Together, we seek infinite expansion.