On October 5, GFN hosted a discussion night about Iran’s feminist revolution and gender oppression under the Islamic Republic. The event took place at the University of Groningen and gathered over seventy people interested in knowing more about women’s role in Iranian protests. Thirty people joined the event online.
Shahrzad Shafei, an Iranian chemistry student and feminist activist, told stories of marginalized people, like trans or queer Iranian women, and ethnic groups. These stories are not being covered enough because they are “sacrificed in the name of the unity of the revolution going on,” Shafei said. “Looking at the numbers, these are not minorities. If we want a better future for Iran, we must give space to these marginalized voices, too,” she added.
The event’s goal was to share information, resources and context surrounding the protests. “Iranians don’t want this regime anymore. Western media often focus on the hijab, but our fight is not about the hijab. The hijab is a symptom of the patriarchal system we stand against,” Shafei explained. The activist said they want to promote a wider, more inclusive perspective on Iranian women’s condition and protests compared to what international media usually report.
“There is much hope in what is happening in Iran right now, believe me,” Dr Donya Ahmadi, Assistant Professor of International Relations at the University of Groningen and speaker at the event, said during her speech. “Consider this: Iranian media are showing footage of women without the hijab: this was inconceivable years ago. It is something to be proud of.”
The professor stressed the importance of this discussion event as a way to spark the conversation in an international context. “Standing up for Iranian women means being the voice of these marginalized groups, sharing their stories. The more people acquire consciousness of the reasons behind the protests, the better,” she said.
GFN’s solidarity with the Iranian women’s cause continues with a demonstration organized on Saturday, October 8 at 15:00 at the Grote Markt in Groningen. The demonstration will include speeches, a march, live music, and dancing. “We want to show that a life free of oppression is full of joy and celebrate Iranian and Kurdish cultures,” the promoters posted on their social media. More information is available on the Groningen Feminist Network Instagram page.
Saturday’s demonstration follows another event organized last September to support the Iranian protests against Mahsa Amini’s death.
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The Groningen Feminist Network is an activist community of like-minded people founded in 2016. The organization describes itself as “inclusive of all gender identities, sexualities, skin colours, cultural backgrounds, religions, ethnicities, education, class, abilities and body sizes.”
GFN promotes a space for activism, discussion and education through events, talks, and demonstrations. It is part of Stichting Inclusive Action North (SIAN), a network of anti-racist, anti-capitalist, anti-ableist, queer and feminist organizations in the Northern Netherlands.
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