Mass protests have erupted in Iran and captured widespread attention after the September death of Mahsa Amini, a young Kurdish woman who was murdered by the morality police while in custody for improperly wearing her hijab. Despite the brutality of the Iranian regime, which has arrested, beaten and killed, while attempting to block internet communication, the anti-government uprising has bravely persevered. Women, youth, and labor rights activists are speaking out against injustice and in their fight for social change. Alongside their call to end patriarchy, gender discrimination, and violence, they also fight to dismantle the Islamic Republic.
Working-class, intersectional feminists in the U.S., must stand in solidarity with Iran’s women, LGBTQI+, workers, and oppressed Kurdish, Arab and Baluchi nationalities. We stand with those speaking out against the capitalist, patriarchal, and fundamentalist regime. We join in unison as activists chant “Down with the oppressor, whether it’s the king or the supreme leader” and “Neither monarchy nor clergy.”
The feminist-led resistance in Iran reveals the immense power of grassroots organizing. Demonstrators have bravely engaged in acts of civil disobedience. Students are boycotting class and organizing rallies at their universities and schools. Women and girls are publicly taking off their headscarves in public acts of defiance. Workers in the oil, petrochemical and other industries and oppressed nationalities have also joined the protests. These uprisings point to the real possibility of revolution in Iran. As the resistance continues, an eventual overthrow of the dictatorship requires disciplined, strategic, and radical leadership. The most oppressed –women, workers, and LGBTQ+ activists – will lead this fight.
Women and girls in Afghanistan, and national minorities including the Hazara, are also heroically battling for their human and civil rights against the tyrannical Taliban. In a statement issued from Kabul on January 18, the Spontaneous Movement of Afghan Women called for “women’s rights organizations, human rights organizations and progressive forces of the world to support the brave struggle of Afghan women and girls against the theocratic and misogynistic regime. We should not be mere spectators of killing, torturing and imprisoning women by the Taliban. Currently, hundreds of women intellectuals protesting the policies of the Taliban are hiding due to security threats from the Taliban…. They need your help and immediate action today, tomorrow may be too late.”
International solidarity is essential to this collective fight for liberation. The fight to control our bodies has to be global. As we organize for reproductive justice and bodily autonomy in the United States, we take inspiration from Iranian protesters and the underground resistance in Afghanistan who are risking everything to make their demands known.
U.S feminists must join with protesters in Iran and Afghanistan to demand an end to gender violence and oppression, the exploitation of poor and working-class people, capitalism, racism, and homophobia. We advocate for international coalition-building and a well-organized united front to fight against global persecution. Together we say, no more! Together we chant, Zhan, Zhiyan, ‘Azadi, (Woman, Life, Freedom)!
Charlotte Swanson-Strauss is a Radical Women activist for reproductive justice and anti-violence counselor. Learn more or get involved by visiting radicalwomen.org or call (206) 722-6057