Image Credits: AP Photo

Yesterday, January 2nd, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley called an emergency U.N. Council meeting to discuss the recent protests in Iran. Now in its sixth day, the unrest in Iran began over its sluggish economy. What began as a protest over high unemployment and the cost of basic goods has divulged into a more general protest against the current governmental regime in Iran. There have even been calls for Ayatollah Khamenei, the supreme leader of the country, to step down.

One of the most striking images thus far from these protests involves a woman shown in a video that has since gone viral of her taking off her hijab and waving it like a flag. This defiant act is illegal in Iran, where women must be covered while in public. You can view the video here. This woman is just one example of the countless women speaking out for their rights in a country that often views women as second-class citizens. Other women have defied military troops, and many are partaking in protests in university and educational settings. This video, and other images that have come to light, truly is striking in a country where a woman can be fined and jailed for the hijab not being on their heads in an appropriate and proper fashion.

These protests do not seem to be slowing down. As of now, 21 people are confirmed dead and more than 450 have been arrested. At a time when women can be thrown in jail for not covering their hair in public, one is forced to ask the question, where are the feminists in the West? Women are, quite literally, risking their lives in order to protest debilitating laws, and fighting for equality. However, the Women’s March, and other feminist groups, have remained silent on this issue. Why? In our world of equality and the bolstering of women, why are these groups suddenly silent when the protests and strikes may not conform to their idea of feminism? You can read here about what a number of prominent women’s groups were doing/saying/tweeting over the past few days, instead of showing their support for women a world away.

However, it is important to remember that the hijab itself is not contrary to feminism. In fact, it can be quite empowering. However, the truly empowering sentiment is the freedom to make the choice to don the hijab for oneself. In the west, women have a choice whether or not to wear it. In Iran, women are not granted the same liberties. While they may be physically protesting the head scarf, they are fighting for so much more. Many of these feminist groups advocate for the liberty and opportunity for choice for women world-wide. So why are they silent when it comes to this choice?

Yesterday, after six days of protest, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley called for an emergency meeting to address the protests in Iran. She showed support for the protestors, and maintains that the world community must not be silent during these protests. Leaders like Haley, among others around the world, exemplify the very notion that Iranian women are fighting for. Women in the west have the freedom and mobility to live their lives as they please, and don’t have to fear violence or imprisonment for fighting for their equal rights. This is a lesson that all women, particularly those in the west, can learn.

Joleen T
FFL Contributor
Joleen is a Contributor at FFL. She enjoys reading, going to Chipotle, and drinking copious amounts of coffee. You can find her at the library, or studying for the LSAT. Her goal is to become a lawyer, and eventually run for public office. Her role models are Nikki Haley and Sandra Day O’Connor.

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