Ever since 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was arrested by the Iranian morality police for not wearing the hijab properly and died in their custody, protests erupted in Iran in September 2022. The world has also rallied behind the brave Iranian women who have taken to the streets to fight for their rights. Now, TIME has recognized Iranian women as the 2022 Heroes of the Year.
“The movement they’re leading is educated, liberal, secular, raised on higher expectations, and desperate for normality: college and foreign travel, decent jobs, rule of law, access to the Apple Store, a meaningful role in politics, the freedom to say and wear whatever,” reads the essay that accompanies the honor, written by former TIME columnist Azadeh Moaveni. “They are quite unlike those who came before them; sometimes they feel more like transnational Gen Z than Iranians.”
In her essay, Moaveni discusses how significant these women’s actions are, not only in their own country, but also the world at large. She explains: “For now, the regional and wider reverberations of Iranian girls’ revolt could not be more seismic. In neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan, countries where violence against women is endemic, activists have held up posters of their Iranian sisters. Feminists across the globe, especially in Europe and Latin America, see the outcome in Iran as a bellwether for their own struggles.”
One of the protesters featured in the essay, who is quoted as “Shima” (but had to hide her real name to protect her safety) adds, “I am proud of myself and my country’s women who stand up for their rights in a braver manner than any man in the world.”
Jessica Sibley, CEO of TIME, posted about the announcement on Twitter and celebrated the women, saying, “Their call for change has echoed in cities around the world.” The unveiling of the honor inspired celebrities and activists to praise the demonstrators. The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power actor Nazanin Boniadi wrote, “In absolute awe. Their power is unstoppable,” and political commentator Ana Diamond thanked the publication for “for amplifying the voices of brave #Iranian women & giving them the recognition they deserve.”
This acknowledgement of heroism by TIME is both a way to honor these brave people and, in some ways, it is a signal of support for their cause. It is especially important now as protestors are being met with strict repercussions, including the death penalty. In fact, a 23-year-old protestor has just recently been hanged. He is the first of 11 who have already been sentenced to death. With over 18,000 protestors who have been detained by authorities, it is paramount that the world become aware of these young people’s fight. Being labeled as heroes instead of criminals is a way to amplify their silenced voices and to get the attention of the whole world about this human rights issue.
TIME has recognized the women of Iran as the 2022 Heroes of the Year.
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“I am proud of myself and my country’s women who stand up for their rights in a braver manner than any man in the world,” said one of the protesters featured in the accompanying essay.
The announcement inspired celebrities and activists to praise the demonstrators.
— Jessica Sibley (@jsibo) December 8, 2022
— Nazanin Boniadi (@NazaninBoniadi) December 8, 2022