Why are women and Gen Z leading protests in Iran?

Why Are Women And Gen Z Leading Protests In Iran?

The Islamic Republic’s requirement of the hijab, which accounts for 60% of Iran’s university graduates, has long been considered as a symbol of tyranny and one of the main instruments used to govern women. Despite the fact that women are leading these protests by cutting their hair and removing or, in some cases, burning their headscarves, this is primarily a youth-oriented campaign spearheaded by Iranian Generation Z (Gen Z).

Like their counterparts in the West, they are a tech-savvy generation that has grown up on social media and the internet. However, they are tightly restricted, since 35% of the most popular websites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, are ban in Iran.

Iran’s 84 million people, 60% of whom are under the age of 30, are governed by an 83-year-old Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and a clerical establishment that they have little to no in common with.

Iranians can see how the rest of the world lives as well as communicate on social media and speak about the injustices and double standards in their own society thanks to several circumvention programmes that evade internet filtering. For some years, anger has been simmering beneath the surface of this generation.

“When Iranian woman see what happened to Mahsa, they think it could have happened to them because you hardly find an Iranian woman who has not been either warned or detained or harassed by the morality police,” Golnaz Esfandiari, senior correspondent for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, told NPR last week. “So we all know we’ve all had this experience.”

“I was talking to several women in Iran, and they told me, look, even if she wasn’t tortured, but she probably died from fear. She had a heart attack from fear. Because they know how scary this is,” Esfandiari said.

Iranians from all sociopolitical backgrounds have been protesting on the country’s streets since December 2017 in an effort to call attention to mismanagement, corruption, and a general lack of confidence in the Islamic Republic.

While protests are not new in Iran, it is unprecedented and noteworthy that the present movement is being led by a younger generation. It’s also crucial to remember that these demonstrations are about more than just opposing the hijab requirement or the morality police; they are also about challenging the greater status quo.

As evidenced by the cries of “Death to Khamenei,” “Khamenei is a murderer, his guardianship is invalid,” “I don’t want, I don’t want an Islamic Republic,” “This year is bloody, Seyed Ali [Khamenei] will be overthrown,” and “I will fight, I will die, I will take back Iran,” demonstrators can be heard declaring that they no longer want an Islamic Republic in the streets of several cities and provincial towns.

If we go back in time we will see how men and women both participated in the marches that took place in 1979. Women also hoped that rights would be increased rather than decreased. But over time, women in the Islamic Republic began to feel inferior to men.

For example, women were prohibited from filing for divorce. Father was automatically granted custody of the children. The marriage age was lowered from 18 to 9. Both elementary and high schools were segregated. Consequently, over time, all of this discontent and treating women like second-class citizens accumulated. And women took part in every protest that took place in Iran. However, they chose to take the lead in the demonstration this time.

Although thousands have been detained and scores have died, there is no indication that the protests are slowing down. Iranian women and Generation Z are resolute in their demand for change.

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