International Womens’ Day 2017: Q&A with Anda Abiculesi, lawyer and President of NGO Ashraf Association
By Rob Roberts
The NGO Ashraf Association promotes democracy and respect for human rights. For International Womens’ Day 2017 the Romania-based lawyer and president of the Ashraf Association spoke to Rob Robert, from Bucharest, about the triggers that started her pathway to holding accountable the Iran regime on its discriminatory laws towards Iranian women.
Participating at a conference on Feb 28th Anda Abiculesi joined a broader group of coalition activists from the Iranian opposition NCRI (National Council of Resistance of Iran) in Bucharest. Where Romanian MP Romeo Nicoara, the conference chair and Chairperson of the Romanian Parliamentary Committee for a Free Iran, questioning how ‘Human rights’ violations de-value a modern society’.
Q&A with Anda Abiculesi:
How did your NGO participate in the 28 Feb meeting? What's your main objective? How long has it been functioning? Who funds it?
Ashraf Association for Promotion of Democracy and Respect of Human Rights was co-organizer of the Conference of 28 February 2017 with Romanian Parliamentarian Committee For a Free Iran.The objectives of the Association are promoting the principles of democracy, respect for human rights in Islamic countries and protecting the rights of refugees. The association has a humanitarian purpose, to protect and promote the principles of equality and non-discrimination. The main reason for co-organizing this conference was to address and discuss the issues of women’s rights especially in Islamic countries and specifically Iran. To be able to offer women a chance to encourage themselves to take action and stand up for equal rights.
In which ways does International Womens’ Day work as a coalescing force?
International Women's Day is a solemn moment, a moment in which we celebrate women and their role in the society. It’s a time when women across the world come together as a whole, and stand up for their rights and for equality in society. Women are a force, and have an important role in the progress of a society starting from the base of the family.
We realize that every day the role of women in society increases and so should their rights. I have had the honor to meet Mrs Maryam Rajavi (president elect of the NCRI) an organization where more than 50% of the leading roles are occupied by women. This was an inspiration for me and it was what motivated me to set up the Ashraf Association in order to build a platform for women and not only, to be able to express themselves, to march for their rights and to be able to feel part of the progress towards an equilibrated society with democratic values and respect for human rights regardless of gender, background or religion.
What's the link between Romanian woman's values and Iranian women's values?
Women's values in Iran should be similar to those of women in Romania or in any other democratic country. In general, the concept of human rights is based on the notion of fairness and equal opportunities. A combination of respect for women's rights, personal integrity (living according to their own beliefs) and taking responsibility to help others, can define a moral maturity for all women, regardless of country of origin. In Iran women are not allowed even the minimum rights such as: taking leadership positions in political or social organizations: political parties, courts of law, universities, etc, have half the share of inheritance compared to men, their lives are valued only half the lives of men, whereas in Romania, women benefit from equal rights in all aspects in the society. I also believe in Mrs Maryam Rajavi’s 10 point declaration for democracy where there is emphasis on respecting the rights of women in society and human rights in general.
8 March! Which actions can people take and what's the message about the rights for Iranian women inside Iran?
In the past 150 years in Iran’s history, women have been fighting for their equality and human rights in society, and tens of thousands of women have lost their lives in their fight for freedom and democracy. We owe them and all the women who have changed the course of history, great respect but we also owe it to them to continue to challenge society stereotypes in order to gain equal rights for women all over the world.
The message for Iranian women in particular is one of encouragement, for them to recognize their own strengths in changing Iran and in establishing a real democracy in their country. Women in Iran must promote and fight for their rights recognized by the CEDO worldwide: ‘women’s right to vote and to be elected and the right to vote’, ‘the right to profess, to select their profession freely and the right to hold public office or right to practice including as president or judge’, ‘right to choose freely outfit and the right to use, without discrimination, all training resources, education, sports and artistic activities, and the right to participate in all sporting competitions and artistic activities’ ... and many many more rights.
I personally believe that the 10 point declaration of Mrs Maryam Rajavi which includes the human rights declaration of the UN, should be a starting point and an outline for the work of all women in promoting equality and human rights for women in Iran, Middle East and in the world.
The Oslo Times International News Network