Iranian Women Activists

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Iranian women are fighting harder than ever to join the 21st century.

In August, 2019, 14 women sent an open letter Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calling for him to resign. For 20 years, Iran’s Supreme Leader has presided over a “gender apartheid” with a “patriarchal approach” that has suppressed the rights of women and girls since the Revolution of 1979.

The 14 activists wrote: “In a world that women in most countries move side by side with men in science, economy, culture, arts, and politics, under the Islamic Republic women still fight for their basic human rights.”

It’s time for Iran to overhaul its theocracy, they argue, calling for others—men and women—to join peaceful, non-violent demonstrations aimed at demolishing an “anti-women system” that denies half of the population of participation.

That’s 20 Million people.

For 40 years, women’s rights have been strictly restricted in Iran.

  • Some 60% of Iranian women are victims of domestic violence. Yet, they are instruction to kiss their abusers’ feet to reduce their stress and help prevent their succumbing to strokes and heart attacks.

  • Wearing the Islamic headscarf is compulsory. Punishments for not doing so, range from fines to imprisonment. At least 39 women were arrested last year in anti-hijab protests, according to Amnesty International, including the three women pictured on the Meet the Heroes page of this website: Yasaman Aryani, Monireh Arabshahi, and Mojgan Keshavar, who have been sentenced to a total of 55 years in prison for removing their hijabs in public.

  • Women and girls are routinely stopped and harassed by morality police and vigilantes whose bullying goes unpunished.

  • Those who protest gender discrimination are subject to insults, humiliation, beatings, imprisonment and, in some cases, torture and execution.

Iranian women aren’t alone. Saudi women, as well, are only beginning to acquire basic rights. In Afghanistan, the Taliban puts girls’ schooling, and therefore their futures, at risk.

Two of the 14 signatories to last month’s letter have been arrested by Iranian authorities. Fatemeh Sepehri was reportedly picked up by police after joining a protest outside a court in Mashhad, while Narges Mansuri is said to have been arrested outside her home in the Iranian capital. The remainder are vulnerable to persecution and arrest, including Iranian human rights lawyer Guity Pourfazel. Yet, these brave women’s rights activists remain “…determined to continue our combat until victory through civil and non-violent measures.”

We honor them and share their story so that we might all bear witness. Join us as we support Iranian exile and dissident Masih Alinejad as she brings the fight of Iran’s women to the world.

I know you need water, food, housing, parents, love... However, just as much you need freedom, social security, the rule of law, and justice.
— Nasrin Sotoudeh, Jailed Iranian Human Rights lawyer

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