Fearing a feminist revolution, Iran’s regime prepares to come down ‘decisively’, and other stories
#WomenLead (Issue 117): Your weekly round-up on women in politics
Hello, and welcome to Issue 117!
The United Nations General Assembly is on, and looks like feminism is quite the “in thing”. Sally Ho of the Associated Press has a round-up. She writes,
“Few men in power have delved deeply into gender equality on the main stage of the United Nations this month, but the ones who did went there boldly: claiming feminist credibility, selling ‘positive masculinity’ and resolutely demanding an end to The Patriarchy.”
How we’d love it if along with the message, we’d just see enough women leaders talking too! But well, that’s where the story of gender equality ends. For most leaders.
Not for us though. And that’s why #WomenLead exists. We hope we have your back on this. 😊
In this week’s edition, we bring you updates from India and South Korea, and the spotlight is on Iran. In case you missed last week’s edition, you can read it here.
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👣 BABY STEPS: Last week, the legislative assembly of India’s largest state, Uttar Pradesh, reserved a full day only for women members of the house to speak. There are only 47 women among the 403 members of the assembly. This initiative came after women members shared with the Speaker that they were hesitant to speak in the male-dominated house.
This unique initiative seems to have worked out well, with several parties discovering powerful speakers within their own ranks, reported The Indian Express. *sigh* We hope they will continue to get more room to speak in the future now that they have been “discovered”. And perhaps, other states might consider similar initiatives?
💔 A SHAME: In November 2021, Dongyoun Cho, an army major, made headlines as South Korea’s Democratic Party picked her as the co-chair of the electoral committee for their presidential candidate.
However, on the very day of her appointment, a former convservative legislator and now a YouTuber, Kang Yong-suk made the allegation that Cho had had a child out of wedlock in 2011 while she was still married to her first husband.
What followed was a full-fledged moral shaming of Cho. Three days later she resigned.
She later revealed that her son had been born as a result of sexual assault while she was a student at Kyunghee University, and not from an extramarital affair. She had to also share this with her son, something she had intended to do eventually.
Last week, Cho spoke about her experience for the first time with The Guardian. Read the traumatic and painful account here. TW: mentions of suicide
Spotlight: IRAN 🇮🇷🇮🇷🇮🇷
On September 13, 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was arrested by Iran’s police while she was traveling to the capital city, Tehran. Amini was allegedly not wearing her hijab properly - some of her hair were visible, something forbidden by the dress code for women in the country for it is deemed immoral.
Her family was told she was being taken to be given “instructions” over how to wear the hijab properly.
Two hours later, she was being taken to a hospital. For two days, Amini battled a coma, and on September 16, succumbed to injuries and died.
There are allegations that she was severely beaten up, and while the police claim that their hands are clean, it cuts thin ice with anybody given the turn of events.
Amini is not the first woman targeted by the country’s “morality” police over violating the country’s strict dress code, in operation since 1979. Women are routinely arrested, harassed and beaten up if they diverge from strict dressing rules.
Time and again, for some years now, Iranian women have tried to raise their voice against compulsory hijab.
With Amini’s death, they have had enough.
Her death has sparked a wave of anger in the country which is now seeing some of its biggest citizen protests in years.
Women are removing their hijab in public, cutting their hair in protest, burning their hijabs. The protests have spread to various parts of the country, and are the biggest protests the country has seen since the 2019 demonstrations against fuel prices, Reuters reported.
“Iranian women who are facing guns and bullets right now in the streets, they’re not protesting against compulsory hijab like just a small piece of cloth.
Not at all.
“They are protesting against one of the most visible symbols of oppression. They are protesting against the whole regime,” Masih Alinejad, Iranian journalist and activist, and vocal critic of compulsory hijab, told the Associated Press.
The regime has reacted in the true spirit of authoritarianism - using violence.
As of yesterday, at least 41 people had died in the protests, Al Jazeera reported. Hundreds have been arrested. The internet has been repeatedly interrupted - which activists allege has been done - to stop the spread of videos of the protests and violence to other parts of the world.
President Ebrahim Raisi has said that the growing protests will be dealt with “decisively”. While in the US for the United Nations General Assembly, Raisi’s long planned interview with a CNN reporter, Christiane Amanpour, was called off after he put in a last-minute condition that Amanpour wear a hijab, which the reporter declined. He has termed the protests a “riot”.
Solidarity, glory and more power to the revolution!
Reflections & Reads
“I am one of the most prominent Yemeni politicians on the ground and online. Yet not a day passes without me having to fight in the virtual world because I decided to have a voice”: Read Nora Al-Jarawi’s account of social media hate
A new women’s parliamentary caucus is needed at a time when they are being brazenly discriminated, this editorial in The Kathmandu Post says, calling for women politicians to unite
More Black women are running for office in Brazil than ever. Can they win? OpenDemocracy explores
That’s a wrap for this week! Liked this edition? Then press the ❤️ button and show us some love! And please, please do share this with a friend or on your social media accounts. There’s frankly nothing quite like reader love and endorsement, so please keep it coming! We’ll see you next weekend with Issue 118!