Mahnaz Afkhami interview on historical background of WLP and the global women's movement
Part of a series of interviews recorded at WLP International with WLP partners following transnational partners meeting, September 2015 (for use in Human Rights webinar).
This interview is with Mahnaz Afkhami, Founder and President of Women's Learning Partnership (WLP), former Minister of Women's Affairs in Iran's pre-Revolution government, and Secretary General of the Women's Organization of Iran (1970-79). She describes background of founding WLP with detail of experience at Beijing conference. Discusses daily reality for women in patriarchal Muslim majority countries, connection between requirements of physicality and power, impact of Industrial Revolution on reproductive health and family planning. Describes organizational mission to change architecture of human relationships and replace hierarchical learning with safe spaces for engagement, expression and dialogue, paving way for creativity, dynamism, and focus. Discusses women as agents of change, empowerment through initiative, referring to Leading to Choices (LTC) manual. Compares laws relating to women with laws relating to commerce, discusses interpretation of religious texts for control of women. Discusses philosophy behind Beyond Equality manual with reference to trajectory of women’s movement. Discusses milestone of rights fought for in historical language (including American Revolution and French Revolution). Refers to infrastructure at fault over blaming men, calling for collective action inclusive of all. Discusses positivity of scientific and technological advancement, decades of experimentation and experience relating to working together, community building and governance, held back by temperament of complacency, hopelessness, pessimism. Discusses Black Lives Matter movement with connection to Civil Rights movement. Discusses potential of women’s movement today as one of strongest, most courageous networks. Refers to Eleanor Roosevelt and universial declaration of human rights, and calls for new collaborative vision, secularism as base. Remarks that religion should be inspiration not obstacle (where laws favor individuals according to faith).