Thursday, June 25, 2009

FMF Interns: in Solidarity with the Women of Iran

On Tuesday, June 23, summer interns stood in solidarity with the protesters of Iran in one of the largest Los Angeles demonstrations since the election results in Iran. This demonstration continues to take place near UCLA.

Sidewalks are filled with flags, signs and people wearing green (a symbol of peace and the signature campaign color of Mir Hossein Mousavi). Hundreds of individuals, many of them Persian, crowded the intersection, chanting both in Farsi and English. Drivers honked and gave peace signs in solidarity.
Above: FMF and Ms. Interns, Marianna Nash, Eva McKend, Jenna Leahy and Anita Lederer (left to right).

Feminist Majority Interns showed their support for Iranian women by holding signs which stated, “We stand in solidarity with the women of Iran.” One woman in particular has become a hero to us and the world. Her name is Neda Agha Soltan. Militiaman shot her in the chest during a protest on June 20, a murder which was caught on tape and posted internationally on the internet. She has become a symbol for this fight for freedom.

By now, most have seen the powerful images of Iranian women fighting for their ideals alongside men; their presence has become an integral part of Iranian protests. Nayereh Tohidi, chair of the Gender and Women’s Studies department at California State University, Northridge observed, "Women have become primary agents of change in Iran.”

In a country where the laws of divorce, polygamy, custody, inheritance, and crime are grotesquely biased toward men, women still have far to go in a quest for freedom. Sixty-three percent of college students in Iran are women, yet it is almost impossible for women to access public sector jobs. Therefore, as one demonstration sign said, the current Iranian protests are “not about an election, but a revolution.”

Since 2006, the women’s movement in Iran has been building with demonstrations and international petitions. The One Million Signatures Campaign was created in order to bring attention to women’s discrimination in Iran and to petition Iranian Parliament to revise their current gender-biased laws. The Campaign uses face-to-face and international campaigning to demand reforms in divorce, marriage, polygamy and guardianship. Since the beginning of the campaign, many women have protested in the streets, as they are now.


One Iranian protester declared, "I see lots of girls and women in these demonstrations. They are all angry, ready to explode, scream out and let the world hear their voice.” Mavis Leno, chair of the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Afghan Women and Girls Campaign, alluded to this passion on Larry King Live on Monday, June 22. In the name of freedom, Iranian women are pushing their headscarves back, allowing their faces, anger and fervor to be seen.

Women are taking an active role in the streets of Tehran to demand equality. Their perseverance and bravery continue to inspire us across an ocean. It was an honor to demonstrate in solidarity with them.


Download Mavis Leno’s Appearance on Larry King Live for free with itunes:

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