Updated: Oct 12, 2022
Reinforce Her Voice.
If you’ve attended any of our events or workshops, you’ve heard this phrase. It is a part of our credo. Woven into the fiber of who we are. It is how we act as and in community with each other.
Right now, our Iranian sisters need us to reinforce their voice. Mahsa Amini, a young Kurdish woman, died on September 22nd while in the custody of the morality police. The issue: her hijab being improperly worn.
This violent act has sparked protests as people speak out against the injustice. Protests like this one where women are standing in solidarity with each other after one was reprimanded by a government official over showing her hair.
The government has responded to these protests with brutal crackdowns. Estimates vary, but it’s reported that over hundred women, men and journalists have been killed or are missing. While Mahsa's death may have started these protests and demonstrations, they now extended far beyond where they started, encompassing communities and continents far away from the capital of Tehran. Protesters everywhere are asking for basic freedoms and rights.
So how did we get to this point?
After the Arab conquered Iran, the hijab issue has become controversial in Iranian politics. In 1936, the ruling government issued an edict and the Hijab was actually banned. In 1979, the requirement to wear hijab was brought back. Since 1981, Iranian women have led the debate, protest, and fight for women’s equality and again more recently in 2017 they did the same. Making a political statement not just on veiling, but on a woman's place in politics and the public sphere. Iranian women have and continue to be at the forefront of the country’s social movements.
Even the chants and slogans of the current protests find their authorship from the women of these very first movements. “Women, Life, Freedom” can be heard ringing out across time as generations of Iranian women reinforce each other's voices.
So, what we are seeing in these current protests is in some ways the continuation of this decades long struggle. However, in other ways it is also new. It is a movement made of the souls of individuals, whose act of protest and leadership is to show up. It is a movement that has broken down barriers across ethnicity and gender with extraordinary characteristics and ability to become a blueprint for women around the world and their fights against oppression.
So why have these protests struck a chord in the U.S. as well?
"I think the death or the killing of Mahsa Amini in custody in Iran has struck at the core of everything we feel about our rights being taken away from us, how fragile our freedoms can be," said, Nazanin Boniadi, 43, Actress, Activist Nazanin Boniadi; 'The Rings of Power' Star
A sentiment that is clearly felt by others as these protests have reached 8 million people in the Iranian diaspora. It’s also not hard to see how fights against police brutality, calls for body autonomy, and ethnic minorities speaking out on the discrimination and persecution they face echo similar challenges we are looking at here.
So what can we do?
Read and Listen
This is the soundtrack of the civil uprising after the writer's arrest.
Translated Lyrics: For dancing in the streets, For the fear when kissing, For my sister, your sister, our sisters For tears with no end, For this moment will never happen again, For smiling faces, For students, for future, For this forced heaven, For the feel of peace, For the sun after long nights, For men, homeland, development, For girls wishing to be boys, For women, life, freedom
Reinforce her voice:
Reach out to your preferred news source and ask them about their coverage of local Iranian women and protests.
Say yes to helping each other:
Join one of the protests going on around your area
Look through Twitter and Instagram to find details about organizing.
Sign petitions such as:
Statement in Condemnation of the Attacks on University Students in Iran (if you are a faculty) by Stanford adjunct professor and serial entrepreneur Dr. Narges Baniasadi
Be unabashedly visible:
Speak up and share out about this when meeting with friends
Ask your local representative what they are doing to take action on this issue.
Let them know that their constituents are visible on this issue and they expect the same from their leaders.
Call Whitehouse 202-456-1111 and press the Biden administration to support your stances on the fight for and by Iranian Women and Expatriates.
Be fierce advocates of each other:
Support the women you know going to the protests
Offer to help drive and drop off
We know that the media is being censored and shut down in Iran. Advocate here for the women who are having their voices quieted.
Photo credit: Cover Image is from the video shared by Dr. Nina Ansary