International Women's Day brings global support for Iranian protests

From London to Brussels, women take to the streets to demand equality and justice

Activists hold placards reading 'Woman, Life, Freedom' with portraits of those killed in Iran during a demonstration to mark International Women's Day in London. AP
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Women around the world are marching to mark International Women's Day, with many showing support for Iranians who took to the streets following the death of Mahsa Amini last September.

Dozens of British-Iranian women marched through the centre of London wearing red cloaks and white bonnets, similar to those worn by female characters in Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel, The Handmaid's Tale.

The protesters, organised by the group Stage of Freedom, walked from the Palace of Westminster to the Iranian embassy in Kensington, holding posters showing female protesters who have been killed, maimed or imprisoned by the regime over the past several months.

The protests in Iran were sparked by the death of 22-year-old Ms Amini in morality police custody. She had been arrested for an alleged breach of the country's strict dress code for women.

The Handmaid's Tale costumes worn by the protesters in the UK highlighted Iran's hijab laws and other restrictions on women. Organisers hoped that the protest would keep Iran's human rights crisis in the headlines while also lending moral support to Iranian women.

In Brussels, a group of protesters gathered outside the Iranian embassy to show their support for women, as well as to voice their opposition to all forms of fascism. The rally aimed to draw attention to women's rights and issues such as violence against women.

Protesters waved banners and chanted slogans, with one placard reading: “Against all fascisms. Women, life, freedom.”

The protest was peaceful, with no reports of violence or disturbances, and was a poignant reminder of the ongoing struggle for equality and justice for women and marginalised communities worldwide.

Iranian authorities have responded to the women-led protest movement with a brutal clampdown. Security forces have killed more than 520 people, including dozens of children, and detained more than 19,000 since the protests began, activists say.

Despite the brutality of Iran's clerical rulers, the protesters remain optimistic that they will prevail.

On the eve of International Women's Day, the EU imposed sanctions on individuals and entities deemed to be responsible for violence and rights abuses against women worldwide.

The Taliban's higher education minister Neda Mohammad Nadeem was sanctioned for barring women from attending university. The sanctions also hit officials in Iran, Russia, South Sudan, Myanmar and Syria.

Global progress on women's rights is “vanishing before our eyes”, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned on Monday, saying gender equality would take another three centuries to achieve.

Updated: March 08, 2023, 4:06 PM