On September 16 Iranians everywhere commemorated the first anniversary of Mahsa Jina Amini’s murder by the country’s notorious ‘guidance patrol’. Arrested for being badly covered, the 22-year-old was beaten so violently, she died from brain injuries. This violence and the regime’s obfuscation of its crime unleashed a 40-year-long pent-up fury among Iran’s women and girls. Protests ensued in cities and towns across the country’s length and breadth. Young and old men, who in past generations had shown limited empathy for the daily humiliations and systemic discrimination facing women, joined. Amini’s Kurdish origins prompted the mobilization of Iran’s Kurds, Baluch, and other minorities. As protesters’ images flooded social media, the #WomenLifeFreedom movement was born. With the regime cracking down, killing over 500 people, raping, injuring, and threatening countless others, young Iranians’ message to the world was ‘be our voice’. The world responded.
There are two sides to the problem of Gender Parity at the United Nations.
On the one hand, member states need to appoint more women to their senior ambassadorial ranks. There is always tremendous competition for the post of UN ambassador, especially if a member state is on the UN security Council.
New York and Washington DC may be three hours apart geographically, but in global affairs, they are worlds apart.
With the wars in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere unabating, at the UN in New York, terms like ‘conflict prevention’ and ‘sustaining peace’ are back in vogue, with world leaders attending a major summit. Meanwhile in Washington while the talks with North Korea took center stage behind the scenes the drum roll of war against Iran
is revving up.
For those of us who ever feel conflicted about the United Nations, the past month has been an exercise in managing absurd cognitive dissonance. First, on October 21 2016, the United Nations announced that the 1940s comic book heroine, Wonder Woman would be its new mascot for promoting the empowerment of women and girls.
Violent extremism is the topic du jour, as government officials are busy developing plans of action on “preventing or countering violent extremism” (P/CVE). In these plans there is dutiful reference to engaging “women”. The more progressive mention gender sensitivity.