By Shirin Golkar
My country is a beautiful land filled with rich culture, warm family traditions, and an underlying strength that makes every Iranian stand tall in their shared identity. Despite its beauty, Iran has been less than perfect for its women. In recent weeks, Iranian women have reached a breaking point under ever-worsening conditions, with riots and protests all over the country. Unsurprisingly, it is the women and school girls who are leading these protests. I have always known my compatriots to be fighters, and have been saying for many years how resilient they are, how they are leading a social movement. For me, it feels like generational trauma is now boiling over, from my mother’s generation to mine, and even to Generation Z.
Though words cannot fully express the extent of emotion this situation arises within me, suffice it to say that I am exceedingly proud of these women fighting for their dignity and their existential rights.
The role Iranian women are playing right now seems unprecedented. It may be the first time in Iran’s history that women have been the spark and engine for an attempted counter revolution in this manner. Women are the heart and soul of a nation. I believe the unrest now seen in Iran is a reflection of that heart, bleeding and broken, yet ready to stand up and change the way the world and our country value them. Iran knows the sentimental value of its women–grandmothers are cherished, mothers are loved, daughters are treasured. But there is more to a woman than her place in the matriarchy, and Iranian women are calling their nation and the world to see what has been hidden from sight for too long.
We need to help the women in Iran, as well as the men and children who support them in this cry for life and freedom. As an Iranian woman myself, there is no doubt that these women are my sisters, but as a member of the global community and a humble partaker of many lovely nations, I now see we are all sisters in this, the human family. We in the global and academic communities cannot leave our sisters alone. If one is assaulted, all are assaulted. If one stands for justice, we all must stand together. These women are fighting for their basic rights. They have counted the cost and considered their cause worthy of risking their safety, even their lives.
Anything we, observers outside the streets of Iran, can do to amplify their voices can help. Having more people outside Iran take a leading role to talk about this does exactly that. Here are some ways you can act in solidarity with the women of Iran:
- Share the news on social media as a symbolic gesture; utilize your platform to share their efforts and, by doing so, you are multiplying their impact;
- Contact any organizations you are connected with to speak on behalf of Iranian women’s rights;
- Academic and educational awareness is a must, so post on LinkedIn, discuss the news in classrooms, assign research articles for students or publish one yourself if you are able;
- Say a prayer; prayers are the most impacting words we can use to create change in the world around us;
These actions have a ripple effect. We can all stand with the women of Iran. We stay hopeful and we stay positive that these women will prevail in their plight to a greater life for Iranian women now and for future generations.
These women-led protests occurring are not acts of mindless violence by a people against its country; they are the cry of courageous Iranians who wish to see their country and the citizens living in it flourish in equality, freedom, life, and liberty. For women, and for all.
Shirin Golkar is a Graduate Institute alumna and the Iranian founder of the Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (WEP). She is a passionate defender of gender parity and equality, fighting for a better world for women through peacebuilding, knowledge spreading, and practical assistance for women entrepreneurs in Iran and around the globe.
You can connect with Shirin via LinkedIn, Facebook (@Shirin Golkar), and Instagram (@Shiringolkar).
Image credit: Women’s Entrepreneurship Program