Here’s a blog by a new member of our global blogging effort
By Saba Jamshidi
An Important Verdict in Madison
On third Sunday of each month, since November 2011, a group of Iranian-American women in Madison, WI, gather to talk about a favorite social issue. In their meeting they want to inform, empower and motivate each other to think beyond their personal boundaries. However, like many Iranian-style gatherings, these women love to share a good discussion over tasty Persian treats.
The idea of food for thoughts and souls, in its potluck format, came to Maryam Soltani, teacher by profession and the organizer of this even, on summer of last year.
“Iranian women are the most active women in their societies both in Iran and in the US,” Soltani said. “Many of the women I know here are very bright women who felt about what is happening in Iran.” she said. Therefore, Soltani wanted to pick on their brains to learn about their point of views on various social issues and to create a sphere where other women can participate and share thoughts.
I knew Soltani from a few Iranian parties I attended in Madison. When I saw her in Costcot Wholesale store touching her iphone anxiously, I knew I had caught her in a bad time. After the usual Iranian exchange she explained she was waiting for Fitchburg Public Library to call her back. She wanted to secure a room in the library for their 9th meeting on Sunday October 21. “I think we are going to discuss the Dressmakers of Khair Khana,” she said while leaving me behind to respond to her incoming call.
“I had read books about Afghanistan before,” Soltani told me later “You never see any active women in Afghanistan. But this book is a real story of a few successful women in Afghanistan,” she explained about her decision to choose the book.
“This kind of books open up a discussion to talk about women’s rights in a society,” said Ladan Mostaghimi, an Iranian-American psychiatrist and dermatologist at the University of Wisconsin hospitals. Mostaghimi then explained, “When I go home and tell my kids that as a woman, when you grow up, you should have the same rights, you shouldn’t settle down for anything less, just because you are a woman, I am creating a base to challenge something that needs to be challenged.”
In their discussion group, these women moved from the Dressmaker of Khair Khana, Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe, to their salute for Kamila and her sisters to prosper even under the most oppressed government, their personal stories of struggle to challenge Iranian authority, the importance of education for girls. to help funding for girls education, the importance of fighting against religious extremism, and the importance of inquiring knowledge and education.
At the end, they proposed a unilateral verdict among their group, “Education for girls is a necessity.”