Social media’s capture of 27-year-old Iranian woman Neda Agha Soltan’s graphic shooting death Saturday has given Iranians around the world a symbol of hope in the face of a violent crackdown on election protests by the current regime.

It has catapulted the struggle of Iranian women and their patriotic voice to the foreground; something they’ve been setting the stage for over three decades.

“For the last 30 years (Iranian) women were not quiet and used every occasion to raise their voices. Specifically over the last four years, they managed to mobilize resources to ask for equal rights and eliminate discrimination,” said Mehrak Mehrvar, research associate at the UBC Women’s and Gender Studies Centre.

 

Mehrak said Iranian women participated in the 1979 Iranian revolution and have gradually made human rights progress — culminating with a one-million signature campaign to support equal rights legislation.

“What we’re seeing today is the result of the good work they’ve done over the past 30 years,” Mehrak said.

Neda’s sacrifice personifies the struggle of Iranian women and their willingness to stand up for themselves and their country — a sentiment echoed by protestors at a 200-plus rally in downtown Calgary Tuesday.

“Since her death she has become a symbol of brave women. Neda was only there to show support for her country and after her death, women are showing their support for Neda and taking a stand,” protester Goli said.

“Iranian women are showing they too, have a voice.”

Goli said Iranian women are facing more pressures than their male counterparts in their country and have more to gain by standing up to the corruption. “Women are facing more pressure and this is symbolic as a cry for freedom,” she added.