History of AIW
The Association of Iranian Women (AIW) is an independent, not-for-profit organization that campaigns for the improvement of women's rights. AIW reports violence against women and works to eliminate gender discrimination. The AIW was established in January of 1993 to educate and empower Iranian women throughout the United States. The Association works towards building a network committed to the idea of advocating women's rights. Through the help of volunteers, the Association promotes opportunities with which Iranian women in the U.S. help themselves.
The source of motivation for AIW activities is the continuous subjection of women under the current non-Islamic Fundamentalist Regime in Iran. In the name of Islam, influential religious clerics (mullahs) have enforced measures which have stripped women of their social rights and human dignity. They have instituted a strict dress and "appearance" code for women in offices and public places, warning women about "improper smiles" in public, and influencing dehumanizing punishment on women for wearing makeup or accidentally allowing a strand of hair to escape from under their scarves. Under the guidance of mullahs, the government has dismissed all women judges and prosecutors as unreliable, prohibited married women from attending school and unmarried women from leaving the country, limited schooling for young girls and lowered the age of marriage to nine. As a result coercion, and insecurity within their own families. The mistreatment of women in Iran has motivated AIW to focus its work on so-called "Islamic Fundamentalism" as a form of oppressive political system, identifying it as one of the major problems our world faces today. Therefore AIW has placed the defense of Iranian women's rights on its agenda as a moral responsibility to identify and condemn the threat to women's rights.
· To cooperate with national and international organizations who defend human rights and adopt measures to globally promote women's rights.
· To participate in international and national meetings involving individuals and organizations committed to investigating the situation of human rights, particularly women's rights, and cases of specific violations of women's rights.
· To cultivate and maintain contact with non-governmental organizations in order to defend human rights and coordinate with attempts to disseminate information on women's condition worldwide.
· To inform the public and national organizations by publishing information and research on the evolution of women's conditions in the different parts of the world.
· To hold conferences, meetings, as well as local gatherings to exchange information and strengthen women's solidarity at the national level and promote women's rights worldwide.
AIW welcomes anyone committed to the ideas of freedom and equality for women to become a member of the organization.
The current membership is greatly diversified, including individuals from all walks of life: lawyers, doctors, business and professional women of all age groups, feminist activists, human rights advocates, writers, journalists, students, etc.
AIW focuses its programmatic activities around their stated purpose: to empower women by providing a social and educational outlet for their talent.
To this end the Association creates a communal setting and provides a "space" where Iranian women can come together. The organization runs a weekly Farsi language school, which is open both to children and adults of all levels who want to learn to read and write in Farsi. The curriculum also includes Persian history, art, and dance courses.
AIW conducts periodic seminars and conferences, offering free legal advice, organizing poetry readings, showing videos, and sponsoring lectures on women's rights and their position in society. AIW also offers support services to battered women and children, and women who have been forcibly ejected from their homes. Women in need may seek shelter in the homes of Association members and obtain free legal and medical advice daily from AIW's trained volunteers. The association also endeavors to help women with job placements through its network of members.
AIW is a member of an international women research committee. The research committee analyzes and disseminates information pertaining to women's rights.
Special events sponsored by the AIW include: the annual Persian New Year celebration (NoRuz), featuring famous Iranian singers, the Mehregan festivities (fall festival), Chaharshanbeh Souri (wednesday feast) and Yalda night (winter festival).
AIW has published a few editions of Kooch Ya Parvaz, a quarterly magazine in Farsi, which included articles and pictures addressing different aspects of Iranian women's lives and Persian culture in general. (Kooch Ya Parvaz is not currently in publication.) The Association also produces and distributes several pamphlets describing each of the Iranian cultural festivities and events.
AIW launched its home page on the World Wide Web in February of 1997. Through this homepage AIW has come to be known to a wider population with a greater diversity.