Parisa Kakaee headshot“Iran is facing a very complicated and difficult situation. The society is oppressed by both the domestic government and the international community,” said Parisa Kakaee, a women and children’s rights activist from Iran. “But even in this situation, activists are trying to do their best.”

Ms. Kakaee said women’s rights in Iran were negatively affected after the disputed presidential elections in 2009, and that, with threats of persecution and jail, some activists left the country, while others were put in prison. Despite this, Ms. Kakaee said, activists continue their work, although at a much more limited level.

Regarding the impact international sanctions against Iran have had on women in the country, she said, “Iran is faced with increasing isolation as a result of sanctions. This means that the Iranian people and civil society also are under pressure. In addition to poor economic policies and economic mismanagement, the main factor which complicates the situation of Iran is sanctions. In fact, the policy of this affects all people and civil society.”

She explained how poverty, to which sanctions are a major contributor, increases incidences of violence, particularly against women and children, and pushes back social gains.

In order to remedy the situation, Ms. Kakaee offered some solutions. “I think the international community should provide [Iranian activists] the opportunity to learn about civil society and improve their skills,” she said. “I think we need to exchange our experience and help people inside of Iran to communicate with the international community.”

The interview was conducted by Maureen Quinn, Director of Programs at the International Peace Institute.

Listen to the interview or read the transcript here.

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