More than ninety days have passed since the beginning of the recent protests in Iran. The [Women, life, freedom] protests are not limited to gender discrimination but encompass class and ethnic discrimination.
The recent uprising is the result of a multitude of causes, including widespread poverty, inflation, corruption, unemployment, ideological and religious discrimination, oppression, censorship, prison, execution, etc.
It is imperative to address all the demands of the current movement, especially as some political currents – the monarchists and other self-proclaimed [expatriate] leaders– aim to reduce the demands to gender issues in order to replace the power structure with the least changes possible. Meanwhile, some political currents in the movement have articulated their demands embedded in the slogan “Woman, Life, Freedom.” The following is an abridgment of these demands:
Among the most basic demands of the current protests are women’s empowerment and the establishment of gender equality in all social, economic, political, and cultural realms. Among these demands are equal pay; bodily autonomy and the right to optional clothing; self-determination for women; the right to divorce and retain custody; the right to education and work; the right to leave the country without a husband/father’s consent; the prohibition of child marriage; and the prohibition of pregnancy discrimination. In sum: they demand the abolition of all sexist, misogynistic, and discriminatory laws leading to violence against women.
The Life [in “Woman, Life, Freedom”] slogan refers to an economic system that resists and aims to overthrow the profit, capital, and interests of the top one percent; to prevent the plundering of natural resources which belong to the people, the revenue of which should be invested in the welfare of the bottom 99 percent; and to protect the environment and other living beings.
The Life focuses on the equality of civil rights in all social, economic, political, and cultural arenas, regardless of gender, beliefs, ethnicity, birthplace, sexual orientation, and different physical and mental abilities. Life demands the abolition of class, gender, and ethnic oppression. It demands free education, universal healthcare, unemployment benefits, proper pension plans, the right to education in the native language, the right to housing and employment, and obtaining a birth certificate for anyone born in Iran or with one Iranian parent. Life demands the right to access clean water, electricity, gas, and free unrestricted telecommunications and internet access.
Freedom demands collective and individual freedom in all economic, social, cultural, artistic, and athletic arenas. The most important of these demands are freedom of speech and beliefs; free press; uncensored internet; freedom of unions [lit. “worker’s associations”]; the freedom to strike; and the freedom to protest without a permit. Freedom also demands the rejection of centralism and the concentration of power based on nationalism, chauvinism, and racism. Freedom demands the separation of religious institutions from the state and the constitution; making religion a personal concern; and prohibition of religious propaganda in all non-religious and public spaces.
In this sense, “Woman, Life, Freedom” is the antithesis of Iran’s capitalist, patriarchal and theocratic system. A system that has commodified every aspect of life and enslaved individual and collective freedom. The commitment to “Woman, Life, Freedom” and its demands by the active classes and groups involved in this movement restrains any opportunists from hijacking this slogan for their worthless interests. Their presence under the banner of “Woman, Life, Freedom” indicates that these various social strata and groups consider the slogan as the summation of their demands. Enunciation of these demands is required to prevent enemies of the people from continuing to defraud and betray the movement.
December 15th, 2022.
A group of youth supporting “Woman, Life, Freedom.”
The Retirees’ Discussion Association
The Alliance of Retirees
Iranian Women’s Voice Collective
A group of women’s rights activist