I'm carrying on, - says defiant Iranian woman activist Parvin Ardalan
Iranian activist Parvin Ardalan Monday vowed to continue her fighting cause, vowing she would not be intimidated by Iranian authorities after being prevented from going to Sweden to receive her 2007 Palme Prize. ( dpa )
"I am not intimidated, we have become resistant and will keep our momentum in our struggle for women's rights in Iran," Ardalan told reporters in Tehran.
Ardalan and her sister were last week on their way to Sweden when she was forced off an Air France plane by authorities at Tehran airport who confiscated her passport.
"I have heard that the ceremony was very nice and I am honoured to be the winner this year. I hope that the prize will in the first place help the women rights' movement in Iran," Ardalan said.
Asked how she would feel as famous person, she said with a smile that "not the person but the cause is important."
The prize worth 75,000 dollars was created 1987 in memory of late Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, who was gunned down outside a Stockholm cinema in 1986.
The jury in February cited Ardalan for "making the demand for equal rights for men and women a central part of the struggle for democracy in Iran." The citation noted that she had braved "persecution, threats and harassment."
Ardalan, a journalist, was co-founder of the women's cultural centre Markaz-e Farhangi-ye Zanan in the mid-1990s that has raised awareness and documented women's rights in Iran, the jury said.
The office of human rights protection in Tehran, headed by Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, invited Ardalan Monday as guest of honour in a belated ceremony marking International Women's Day.
A speaker at the ceremony said that although Ardalan could not go to Sweden, she was being honoured in Tehran.
"Although we have faced some hardships last year and were deprived of even holding public ceremonies, we still consider it as a good and successful year for women's rights," Ardalan said in a speech to more than 100 invited guests and journalists.
"Fifty of our activists landed in jail but this did not stop us, as what makes us strong is our will and solidarity regardless of what government or parliament, conservatives or reformists, are in power."
Under Islamic laws, women have not the same legal rights as men on issues such as divorce, child custody and inheritance.
According to legal experts in Tehran, women activists such a Ebadi and Ardalan have succeeded in pushing family courts to be more in favour of women than men, but without changing the laws themselves.
Another concern of women activists in Iran is the Siqeh - or temporary marriage - which women consider as degrading and activists are trying to abolish.