Diary of a young woman campaigning for reform
Issued on: Modified:
Iran has one of the largest female student populations in the world, and yet for the past four years this segment of society has been increasingly oppressed by the conservative authorities. The forthcoming presidential election is an opportunity for Iran's youth; women in particular, to make themselves heard. One of those doing just that tells us about her day campaigning for reformist candidate Mirhossein Mousavi. Read more...
Young supporters of Mirhossein Mousavi don themselves in green.
Iran has one of the largest female student populations in the world, and yet for the past four years this segment of society has been increasingly oppressed by the conservative authorities. The forthcoming presidential election is an opportunity for Iran's youth; women in particular, to make themselves heard. One of those doing just that tells us about her day campaigning for reformist candidate Mirhossein Mousavi.
Iran has one of the youngest populations in the world, with over 65% of its citizens under the age of 33. On top of that about 10 million of them are university students, and 60% of those are women. The majority of this mainly middle-class group, born in the country after 1979, has only ever known the Islamic Republic. They're not asking for dramatic reform, they just want a bit more freedom, says our Observer Hoora, a computer engineering student from Tehran.
"Involving yourself in politics in Iran is dangerous (...) but paying attention to politics is part of my daily life"
Shohreh, an arts student from Tehran, is one of our Observers in Iran. In this video, she explains that getting politically involved in the country is still dangerous. However, the Iranians can't help but be interested in politics, especially thanks to new media - she considers Facebook one of the few places where you can talk freely about the upcoming election.
Shohreh's personal account was aired on France 24
"Some people shout names at us like ‘mercenaries!'"
Hoora is a 21-year-old reformist and Mousavi supporter. She studies computer engineering and works part time as a software engineer and newspaper reporter.
Friday is my day off and I'm going to do some campaigning for Mousavi. I'm woken up at 5.30 by a traditional song I've set on my radio alarm. I have a cup of tea and pick out a mandatory hijab that I think will be accepted by the Ershad officers (Islamic Guidance police). In any case they can always find a problem with something you're wearing, whether it be your dress, makeup or hair. Mirhossein Mousavi says that he'd bring a stop to these kinds of harsh controls in the street. But the police are not directly controlled by the government in Iran so I don't know if it would make a difference.
After leaving the house I meet up with some friends in north Tehran and head to the Mousavi campaigning HQ. There's a lot of organising and recruiting to be done and we only have a few minutes to eat something in a café nearby, drink some tea and smoke a cigarette.
Afterwards we head to the streets, putting up Mousavi posters, talking to passers-by and handing leaflets to passing cars to put on the rear window. Some people shout names at us like ‘mercenaries!' but others smile and give us encouragement.
At the end of the day we head back to the office, singing Islamic Revolution and reformist songs, making jokes and exchanging texts. Even in the taxi back to my home I'm talking with other passengers about Mousavi's policies: how he'd give us more freedom, ease international tensions, lessen censorship.
When I get home my dad is watching election news and we chat about developments (he supports Ahmadinejad but I'm hoping he'll change his mind). I finish the day by checking my emails, Facebook and messenger, tweeting and reading blogs and elections texts. Most of them are jokes about candidates, but some of them are more serious: about arrests and attacks.
By midnight I'm terribly tired. Tomorrow it's back to work... I just hope that all my hard work pays off when we win the election in two weeks!