Zan Zandengi Azadi: Womens’ Chant for Progression


Khai Huynh

Woman, Life, Freedom a chant that currently is making headlines as a part of the Mahsa Amini Protests. The Islamic Republic of Iran faces continued protests since Sept. 16 against the government’s oppression and strict enforcement of modesty on women.

Khai Huynh and Faith Lugo

“Woman, Life, Freedom” or “Zan Zandengi Azadi” in Kurdish, is a rallying cry that has recently been arising in wake of the Mahsa Amini protests. The Islamic Republic of Iran has been experiencing a wave of protests, arguing for the rights of women against the government of Iran and Gasht-e-Ershad/Morality Police. 

In mid-September 2022, Mahsa Amini was arrested by Iran’s morality police in Tehran for what they deemed “immodest dressing,” and was subsequently beaten in custody. Three days later, Amini was declared deceased in a hospital. People were outraged and protests continue even into 2023. Iran’s morality police have long been criticized, as an extension of Iran’s interpretation of Sharia law, many hold the belief that their interpretations are outdated. Amini’s death particularly outraged many as they had viewed that Amini was upholding Islamic beliefs of modesty. After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Iran enacted multiple laws restricting women’s rights under religious beliefs of modesty. Iranian women however have pushed the boundaries and viewpoints of what is modest for a woman. An estimated 434 protesters have died (TIME) in the protests since September and countless more have been arrested for protesting. In October 2022, schoolgirls in Iran started to take off their hijabs and wave them while shouting at authorities.

This spread throughout Iran as multiple girls started to take off their hijabs as a form of protest against the restrictive government. On October 3, 2022, girls in cities like Karaj, Tehran, Saqez, and Sanandaj, took off their hijabs and made angry gestures toward the portrait of Ayatollah Khamenei and the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Protests aren’t simply held by women, men are now participating in these protests as well, comparatively different than in previous protests. 

Iran has failed to acknowledge the current civil unrest, and Iranian diplomats are withholding information. Execution as capital punishment in Iran is significantly more common than in the West. Four men have already been executed by hanging, due to connection to the protests, and many more have received the death sentence. Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei has said that the protests and civil unrest are not attributed to Mahsa Amini, rather it is due to western countries like the U.S. for sewing civil unrest; Khamenei has threatened punishment for anyone who works with the foreign press. 

Despite this, the situation in Iran is not going unnoticed. In December, the U.S. proposed a resolution to remove Iran from the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). With 29 votes in favor, 8 against, and 16 abstaining the UN has been removed from the CSW for the remainder of its four-year term, terminating in 2026. Amir Saeid Jalil Iravani, Iran’s UN Ambassador, strongly rejected the resolution. Iravani said, “It is not at all unexpected that the United States is taking such unlawful action against Iran, given its long-standing hostility towards the Iranian people, but if carried out, it would be exceedingly dangerous to the UN system integrity.” Even while in different hemispheres, there are ways to contribute to the protests in Iran. Vital Voices allows us to connect with lawyers, activists, reporters, and more to directly help with civil issues that are ongoing. The Iranian American Women Organization is an organization that focuses on women’s rights concerning economics, marriages, women’s health, and more. Another charity is the Women’s Foreign Policy Group. They offer panel discussions on topics like Women, Life, and Freedom, and the protests in Iran. This group also connects to other charities and helps elect representatives to speak for women’s rights. Iranian news that may not be out on other platforms is also covered. United 4 Iran is an organization that works to have Iranian’s human rights and right to live respected, their efforts have been ongoing since 2009. These organizations have each contributed to the cause going on in Iran, so consider donating to charities, signing petitions, and raising awareness of the Iranian protests.


List of Petitions to help Iranian Women,

Petition for Proper Coverage 

Petition for Visa Ban Against Those Linked to Iranian Regime



Iranian American Women Foundation Donations

United 4 Iran Donations 

Iran Human Rights Documentation Center Donations 

NCRI Women’s Committee Donations

Solidarity with the Women of Iran Donations & Membership 


For more information visit: 

WFPG In Support of Iranian Women

Iran: Women and girls treated as second class citizens, reforms urgently needed, says UN expert 

In Iran, Women Deploy Social Media in the Fight for Rights 

Iran schoolgirls remove hijabs in protests against government

Iran Has a Long History of Political Activism and Protest. Here’s What To Know

The Women of Iran Are Not Backing Down

Iran removed from UN Commission on the Status of Women

Zan, Zendengi, Azadi

Woman, Life, Freedom

4 Ways You Can Support Iranian Women Today