The Lipstick RevolutionJune 22, 2009
Like many others, I was glued to #iranelection, #iran09, and, sadly, #neda over the weekend as I kept checking in with Twitter while working on AAUW convention projects. At one point I turned on CNN and saw Christiane Amanpour highlight the impact women are having in Iran, especially with the protests against injustice — what others are calling “The Lipstick Revolution.” In case you weren’t aware, the regular news sources were turned out of Iran, so some citizens, many of whom are women, have taken to sharing firsthand accounts on Twitter or through videos on YouTube.
According to Amanpour, although women make up 65 percent of the university student body and voted more than men in the last several elections, they are still treated as second-class citizens when it comes to legal rights in divorces, child custody, and inheritance, among other things. As a result, “women have become primary agents of change in Iran,” Nayereh Tohidi, chair of the Gender and Women’s Studies Department at California State University, Northridge, told CNN.
And then, suddenly, a young woman, a bystander watching the protests with her father, was shot and killed. Her death may have gone unnoticed, as a footnote name in the list of those killed, except it was captured by a cell phone and put on YouTube. The video became an overnight symbol of the growing crisis. According to Robin Wright in Time magazine, “The woman rapidly became a symbol of Iran’s escalating crisis, from a political confrontation to far more ominous physical clashes. Some sites refer to her as ’Neda,’ Farsi for the voice or the call.”
And then this morning as I watched the continuing coverage, I heard a reporter speculate over the relative quiet yesterday. His opinion was that women and students may not give the protests the force they need to continue. Hmmm. I can’t speak to the political reasons behind any country’s turmoil. But I have watched how social media tools such as Twitter and YouTube have made a tremendous impact on global perceptions of events. I saw CNN get lambasted on #cnnfail and saw them change how they reported news almost overnight as a result. And I watched the faces of “those women,” saw their seriousness, their bravery, their loss of life. It reminded me why I advocate for justice and equality on behalf of women and girls, through the auspices of AAUW. How about you?