Women’s rights

  • Why Human Rights Matter

    Though we spend so much of our time contemplating some of the cruelest of human actions, human rights activists are normally, by nature, optimists. After all, why else would we believe in our ability to expose evil, ensure justice, and bring positive change?

    Yet recent times have challenged us a lot and the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10 falls at a time of deep pessimism for many human rights activists. There have been massive advances over the past seventy years—billions raised out of poverty, children moved from the workforce and into the classroom, their elders living longer and healthier lives. Women have taken huge strides toward gender equality, while indigenous communities, those who identify as LGBT, and people with disabilities are claiming their place in society.

    Still, there is truly a mercy deficit in the world today.

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  • Iran’s Hijab Protests Are a Middle Class Phenomenon

    The day before widespread protests broke out in Iran last December, Vida Movahed, 31, stood on a utility box in Tehran, took off her white headscarf and waved it before a crowd.

    In the weeks since then, dozens of other women have done the same, earning the nickname the “Women of Enghelab [Revolution] Street.” Their acts of disobedience against compulsory veiling in the Islamic Republic have been conflated with the economic protests that convulsed Iran for several weeks and that continue sporadically. But the economic demonstrations were largely by young men in provincial cities and towns; the hijab protests, mostly confined to Tehran, should be seen as a parallel movement and not an extension of the economic protests.

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