In recent weeks, Iran has seen deep public unrest, with demonstrations and protests taking place in some 80 cities, triggered by the tragic death of Jina Emini (popularly known in the Western World by her Farsi name, Mahsa Amini), who was detained by authorities in Tehran on September 13th for the apparent crime of not covering her hair properly with a headscarf, allegedly beaten, and died three days later, while in custody. Women and girls have been in the leadership of this protest movement which has been reportedly met with violent repression from the Iranian government.
The anger and frustration of Iranian women has multiple causes besides the forced veiling. While highly educated, their participation1 in the labor force, at 15% - 20%, is less than half that of Saudi Arabia’s. There are high rates of early marriage and pregnancy. And only 5% of parliamentarians are women.
The Green Alliance for Sex-Based Rights stands in solidarity with the women of Iran in their struggle for freedom and equality– as we stand with women everywhere. We support Iranian women’s struggles for the right to protest injustice without reprisal, to be free to exercise their bodily autonomy, including their choice of dress, their right to pursue the same occupational opportunities as men, their right to fully participate in the governing bodies of the nation, and all other rights set forth in the Convention2 on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1979, and as reaffirmed in the Declaration on Women's Sex-Based Rights - Women's Declaration International (womensdeclaration.com)
The women of Iran have demonstrated their capacity to lead their own struggle for liberation in the political, religious, and cultural context of Iran. The last thing they need is more interference from agencies of the U.S government. More U.S. sanctions or U.S. military or other intervention will make their struggle against their patriarchal theocratic government harder, not easier, and ultimately undermine their movement. Feminists and allies in the U.S. must oppose any such moves.
We can best express our solidarity with our Iranian sisters by demonstrating the same courage in fighting against our own western-style patriarchal system that is denying women’s reproductive rights, depriving women of the benefit of the already ratified Equal Rights Amendment, and eroding women’s privacy, autonomy, and other sex-based rights here at home. Women must fight for our liberation in every country on earth, and the women of Iran offer inspiration to all of us in the struggle to advance women’s rights.
1 A range of sources put this number at between 15% and 20%, with the Iranian Parliament claiming 20%.
2 CEDAW has not been ratified by either the United States of America or the Islamic republic of Iran.