The controversial shooting down of a U.S. drone, breaches in a nuclear deal and President Trump’s hasty decision to cancel an airstrike have kept Iran in the headlines in recent weeks. But women’s rights have been conspicuously absent from the conversation— so on Wednesday’s, women across Iran rose up to change the narrative.
The viral online movement #WhiteWednesdays was initiated by Iranian journalist and activist Masih Alinejad after international human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was sentenced to 38 years in prison for appearing in public without wearing a hijab in 2017. Two years later, five #WhiteWednesdays activists remain in prison—but the movement has in no way lost momentum.
Alinejad tweeted a video of a brave woman in Iran speaking out against the arrests of women who protest for their rights, dignity, and freedom. While violence by security forces toward women and girls continues, she persists—using her social media almost every day to expose the brutality women face with the hashtag #MyCameraIsMyWeapon. She’s working double-time: exposing violence against women and showing the world how brave Iranian women are.
Challenging the mandatory dress codes for women has been a hot topic in other media outlets, too. “Men, I birth you for you to tell me what to do, [it’s] insane,” an older women retorted after a man in the subway to fix her hijab in a video shared on an Iranian television instagram account.
But women’s rights in Iran are not just hindered by strict modesty dress codes. Iranian women have been especially affected, too, by the maximum-pressure economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. Since their implementation, both Iranian and American women’s products, including certain medications and menstrual supplies, have skyrocketed in price and become more scarce—adding an additional strain to the lives low-income women, disabled women and refugee women. The economic devastation arising as a consequence of sanctions has also been manipulated by conservative leaders to be a justification to limit the presence of women in the public sphere.
The Trump administration’s approach to foreign relations with Iran has worsened existing humanitarian crises for women and created new ones. But women in Iran will continue to fight back.