Women have always been the vanguards of social change in my country. The first protest in Iran happened about 100 years ago, around the time of the constitutional revolution, when 8 women protested the high price of meat in Tehran. Later on, during the 1979 revolution and the opposition movements after, women were always on the front lines, especially in the Green Movement.
That is why in our totalitarian theocracy today all of the laws are against women. They know that giving the smallest opportunities to women is equal to irreversible social change.
Iranian women fight for their rights every day of their lives. Hijab is mandatory in Iran, but by ignoring this mandate Iranian women are attempting civil disobedience against the regime. This kind of disobedience has an expensive price. It can lead to arrest, prison, lashing, and fines, but the women keep on fighting. For example, if a woman dressed like me walks in the street she will definitely get arrested and punished.
The women’s movement in Iran can be compared to the women’s movement in the west in the early 20th century; and we can compare the chauvinistic laws of the Islamic Republic to those of ISIS! Yes, Iran, ISIS, and to some degree Saudi Arabia, currently have similar laws against women. The difference is that ISIS has recently removed the Burqa mandate for women, but the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic recently issued a fatwa criminalizing riding bicycles for women!
Catch up on the 2016 Sister-to-Sister Mentorship program to learn more about Maryam.