Day 16, Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh: MAKERS Celebrates 20 Women of the 1995 UN Conference on Women

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the 1995 UN Conference on Women in Beijing, we're featuring 20 incredible women on MAKERS who participated in the largest ever international gathering of women.

Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh is an Iranian women’s rights advocate, author, and filmmaker living in exile in the United States.  An active participant in Iran’s Islamic Revolution, Abbasgholizadeh dedicated herself, in the years afterward, to carving out a space for women’s rights within an Islamic framework.  She helped found and lead a women’s studies institute and journal focused on feminist readings of the Quran.  Her participation in 1995 NGO Forum, which ran parallel to the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, had a profound impact on her life.  Upon her return from Beijing, Abbasgholizadeh began training grassroots women activists and becoming more and more of a secular, anti-fundamentalist voice in Iran.  She was a force in a number of groundbreaking campaigns, including Stop Stoning Forever. Abbasgholizadeh was first arrested in 2004 for a speech she gave as a part of the Beijing +10 anniversary conference in Bangkok. She was arrested twice more, once for peacefully demonstrating in support of five jailed Iranian women activists, another for attending the funeral of a senior cleric critical of the Iranian government.  Upon her last release, she fled Iran.  Now in exile in the U.S., Abbasgholizadeh continues to work to empower grassroots activists within Iran, particularly women and youth, as director of Zanan TV & NGO Training Center.

Be sure to watch the trailer for the upcoming documentary, "Once and For All" and join our conversation with the hashtag #OnceAndForAll.

NEXT: Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Beijing Conference »

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Photo Credit: AP Photo/Hasan Sarbakhshian