On a windy morning in late November, I joined artists, activists, diplomats, and others on Roosevelt Island to hear former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton ( Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke about an anonymous phone call she received via Voice of America at 400 During the World Conference on Women in Beijing. A man in Iran called and asked her to explain what she meant when she said, “Women’s rights are human rights,” the now famous phrase, which she said for the first time in Beijing.
“I advised him to close his eyes and imagine that women in Iran had the same rights as the men he had there,” recalls Clinton. “He fell silent, as if he found the idea confusing.”
Fast forward almost 30 years, Iran today is in the midst of a feminist revolution led by women. Mahsa Amini’s death sparks widespread protests as a 18 year-old Iranian Kurdish woman is arrested on the street by ‘morality police’ September in Tehran , died three days later in police custody after allegedly wearing a turban too loose, igniting a long smoldering Frustration in Iranian society, especially among women and young people. The government’s response was brutal, estimated 18, 000 protesters were arrested and more than 400 were killed. However, the protests, which extended to strikes by sympathetic shopkeepers in major cities last week, show no signs of abating.
We gathered on Roosevelt Island that chilly morning to mark the opening of “Look at Iran,” a timely and compelling collection of Iranian-American and Iranian-in-exile artists art exhibition. Organized by the artist/activist group For Freedoms in partnership with Vital Voices (an NGO focused on women’s leadership) and a loose Iranian Women’s Union, the works were installed at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms National Park in the east from and directly from River facing the United Nations.
Tomorrow, the United Nations will vote on a US-led resolution to expel the Islamic Republic of Iran from its 400 ) – Member of the Commission on the Status of Women. (You can read and sign a petition in support of the action here.) In addition to this immediate goal, however, is the pressing goal of these Iranian diaspora artists, which is to draw international attention to the ongoing humanitarian crisis at home.