Since the 1979 revolution, the Islamic Republic has had a contentious relationship with freedom of speech, to say the least. The regime implemented censorship and surveillance to control the internet and passed laws to limit access and punish those who spread ideas against their agenda—most evident to the international community when mass human rights violations are underway. Under this regime, freedom of speech has continuously been degraded and has seen a steady decline, including a crackdown on journalists and activists expressing opinions online, as noted by the activist group Reporters without Borders.
Throughout its history, Iran has seen numerous protests against the government and its policies. From the very first protest rally against the Islamic Republic in March 1979, to the student protests in 1999 and the nationwide protests in 2009, 2018, and 2022, demonstrations have been a powerful way to express dissent. In the most recent protests that began in September 2022 after Jina Mahsa Amini’s death, over 20,000 protesters were arrested, over 500 killed and scores sentenced to death for their participation in the demonstrations. The protests have signified the shifting dynamics of Iranian society, as citizens increasingly voiced their demands and grievances.
Lena M is a young Iranian woman who has been an outspoken activist for years, fighting against gender-based discrimination both online and offline. She has used social media platforms to raise awareness about the government's oppressive policies in Iran, despite being well aware of the potential consequences.
Since the 1979 revolution, traditional values and religious dogma have resulted in gender segregation and discrimination. This has been enforced institutionally, leading to segregated public spaces, such as schools, beaches, parks and Tehran metro. Iran’s sharia laws have required all under 18 to receive paternal permission for travel documents, while women over 18 need written consent from their father, guardian or husband to obtain a passport. Married women have needed to get their husband's approval before being allowed to travel.
Before the 1979 revolution, Iran was renowned for its fashionable attire inspired by the Empress of Iran. After the revolution, women had to wear the veil, cover their hair and wear modest clothing to avoid attracting men's attention. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has voiced his opposition to any "unrestrained mixing of men and women", demonstrating that issues of female dress were linked with moral and social issues in Iran.
We invite you to join us on this AI-generated journey of alternative futures, as we navigate the struggles and triumphs of Iranian women in the face of gender apartheid and human rights violations. Despite numerous obstacles, Iranian women have refused to be silenced or held back by the oppressive forces that seek to control their lives. Yet, they need our voices, our actions and our commitments to help achieve a better future. This predictive work, generated entirely by an AI trained on Iranian history and current events, illustrates the multi-futures of Iran depending on global action today.
Through these pages, you will glimpse into the world of women in Iran who are willing to sacrifice everything for their rights, freedom, and dignity. This collection forces us to think about our collective responsibility and power to effect change. It brings us face to face with a potential dark future if we fail to support the resistance movement in Iran. It provokes us to stand on the right side of history by consciously taking action towards building not only Iran's future, but also our global future. What happens if nothing is done? What happens if every effort is taken? The decision is yours.
This book is a tribute to the strength and resilience of Iranian women, and a call to action for all those who believe in justice and equity. We hope that it will inspire readers to continue the struggle for a better world, where every woman is free to pursue her dreams and fulfill her potential.
The future is history waiting to be rewritten. Help us rewrite Iran today.
With great hope,
Iran Democracy Council