Iran's Year of Defiance and Repression: How One Woman's Death Sparked a Nationwide Uprising

A year ago, Mahsa Jina Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman, died in the custody of the morality police after being arrested over alleged “improper” hijab in Tehran.

Mena Mangal

Mena Mangal was a prominent TV journalist, women’s rights advocate and cultural adviser to Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of Afghanistan's national parliament. 

For more than a decade, she worked for Ariana TV, Tolo TV's Pashto-language channel Lamar, and the private Afghan national television broadcaster Shamshad TV. As a presenter, Mena focused on women’s rights and cultural talk shows. 

"Women's rights activist Wazhma Frogh said Mangal "had a loud voice" and actively spoke out as an advocate for her people."

Hevrin Khalaf

Hevrin Khalaf was a prominent Syrian Kurdish political leader in the autonomous region of Rojava where Kurdish women are risking their lives to resist the Turkish offensive and build a feminist system.

She was Secretary-General of the Future Syria Party (FSP), a group that aimed to build bridges, reconcile different ethnic groups and work towards a “democratic, pluralistic, and decentralized Syria.”

Nadyn Jouny

The personal is political - and fiery and courageous Nadyn Jouny personified this feminist mantra. Nadyn experienced firsthand the pain of structural violence in legal systems that strip women of their rights.

Su’ad Al-Ali

Su’ad was a strong advocate of women’s and children’s rights, and was the head of Al-Weed Al-Alaiami - an Iraqi human rights organisation.

She participated in the July 2018 demonstrations that took place in Basra and several other Iraqi cities protesting unemployment and demanding jobs and proper public services for citizens, as well as calling for the elimination of rampant corruption.

Samira Khalil

Samira was a Syrian activist under Bashar al-Asad's regime.

From a young age Samira opposed all forms of despotism, particularly vis-a-vis the authoritarian regime in which she lived.

Samira was kidnapped in 2013 along with three other prominent activists. She is believed to have been taken from the Center for the Documentation of Violations in Duma, in rural Damascus.

Riham Al-Bader

Riham was a lawyer and activist committed to monitoring rights violations in Yemen.

She worked with other activists to supply civilians trapped by Houthi militias in the outskirts of the city of Taiz with food and water.

Riham was killed in February 2018 and it is unconfirmed whether she was killed by a sniper or hit by an aircraft. Nobody has been held accountable for her murder. 


Madiha El Safty

Madiha was a prominent Professor of Sociology who actively engaged with civil society as an advocate for women’s rights in the Arab region.

She chaired the Alliance for Arab Women and was a member of the Committee on Civil Society and the Committee on the Development of Minia Governorate with the National Council for Women. She produced numerous papers that shed light on, and analyzed, gender inequalities and discrimination against women.

She is remembered fondly by colleagues, students and friends.


Barin Kobane

Barin was a member of the all-women fighting unit of the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG)

She was killed while on active duty.

Razan Al-Najjar

Razan was a 21-year-old volunteer medic in Palestine.

She was shot as she ran toward a fortified border fence, in an effort to reach a casualty in the east of the south Gaza city of Khan Younis.

In her very last Facebook post, Razan said: “I am returning and not retreating,” adding: “Hit me with your bullets. I am not afraid.”