Iranian Women Rights Activist Ahmadi Khorassani
Chartist meeting on Kennington Common. 10th April 1848. The world's first photograph of a crowd.
The Chartist Movement in Britain organised three massive petitions in favour of adult male suffrage and other democratic reforms in 1838, 1842 and 1848. Numbers of women also campaigned for the objectives of these petitions as they saw them as advancing the say of working class families. Although Chartism had no immediate success, by 1858 one of its demands reached the statute books with the end of the property qualification for candidates. Other successes were to follow.
The struggle for votes for women became a significant force especially under the campaigning of the suffragettes. The Women's Social and Political Union being founded in 1904. By 1928 the bulk of the demands of the Chartists and the campaign for an equal franchise for women had triumphed.
In Iran today women have the vote, but the electoral system is manipulated to block out numerous reformist candidates who would provide an avenue for pressures for women's rights.
As an article in the current issue of Amnesty International points out -
"Women do not have equal rights with men in marriage, divorce, child custody or inheritance. They cannot be judges. Criminal harm suffered by a woman is less severely punished than the same harm done to a man. Evidence given in court is worth half that given by men....in the eyes of the law they are second class citizens."
A female Chartist-style campaign called the Campaign For Equality is under way in Iran (with male supporters) seeking a million signatures to demand an end to discriminatory laws.
International support is being sort for this campaign here. See also the Amnesty International web-site here.
There is no reason why this campaign should not come to have the significance in Iranian politics which the Chartists and the Suffragettes had in advancing democracy, justice, civil rights and social reform in Britain.