Violence and discrimination have followed women in the Iranian society since the Islamic Republic of Iran, founded by Ruhollah Khomeini, took power 40 years ago.
To eliminate and marginalize half of the society from the political and social spheres, the regime continues to systematically suppress women with ferocity.
Nevertheless, Iranian women are at the forefront of anti-government protests in Iran challenging the misogynous rule of the clerical regime.
The women’s movement in Iran has a special characteristic unlike any other in the world.
Instead of only focusing on women’s rights and equality, Iranian women have gone to the root of the problem, challenging the very state and demanding freedom and democracy of all Iranians.
Women in Iran realize liberty is the first step in their struggles for their rights and equality.
Therefore Iranian women do not focus on their particular rights in rallies and protests across Iran. They target the regime in its entirety.
Dec 2017/Jan 2018 nationwide protests
The December/January 2018 protests that swept across the country in 143 areas, started in the northeastern cities of Mashhad, Nishapur and Kashmar and spread to other cities like Ahvaz and Tehran.
Videos and images of the protests were published on social media and received widespread attention from the press. Women played a significant role in the protests and marches. In many parts of Iran, women were the first to chant “down with Khamenei”, the regime’s Supreme Leader, which then turned into the key slogan of the uprising, targeting the regime in its entirety.
The picture of a lone woman walking through tear gas in the streets of Tehran, covering her nose and mouth with her scarf while holding up her fist in protest was the image of the 2018 uprising.
Another popular video showed a woman standing alone against riot police in Kermanshah during a protest on December 29, 2017. The angry woman chanted “down with Khamenei” into the faces of riot police while others encouraged her. She was quickly taken away by others on the scene to avoid arrest.
During 2018 when more than 9,000 protests were carried out by various classes of Iran’s society including workers, truckers, government employees, pensioners, creditors who have lost their savings to regime backed institutions, and teachers and students, Iranian women once again played an important role. They were active in all the rallies and sometimes played leadership roles.
Creditors from institutions like the Revolutionary Guards Affiliated Caspian Institution, who have been rallying and demanding their lost savings for the past year, are usually led by women.
Women most effected by widespread poverty
Women are most effected by the widespread poverty in Iran. The unemployment rate among women especially educated women is very high while structured segregation against women exists in all spheres of their lives. This puts women at the forefront of rallies against the regime.
Women breaking the norms by protesting
In light of Iran’s sometimes traditional norms, protesting women, especially in smaller cities are breaking the norms. By standing at the forefront of the demonstrations they are challenging the taboos created by the 40 years of extremist rule which has specifically targeted women’s liberties.
Videos of the protests in the past year depicts women participating in almost all protests in including female laborers protesting low or delayed paychecks, wives of laborers, mothers of unemployed young people and in general women who are angry and frustrated over the rampant corruption, poverty and unfulfilled promises of the Islamic Republic of Iran.