Today is Purim — the day that we are commanded to retell the story of how a Persian Queen helped save her fellow Jews from annihilation.
It’s also International Women’s Day.
So it’s no coincidence that a group that opposes the Iranian regime, and its efforts to obtain nuclear weapons — an organization backed by the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and other Jewish and non-Jewish groups — chose this day to convene Iranian ex-pats for a panel discussion on “The Role of Women in the Struggle for Iran’s Future: From Quiet Resistance to Digital Activism.”
Despite the event’s title, and despite widespread speculation about a possible strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, the panelists — author Roya Hakakian, broadcast journalist Solmaz Sharif and blogger Arash Abadpour — spoke only briefly about women’s activism and the nuclear threat. They lingered instead on the question of why Iran, whose Green movement was a precursor to the Arab Spring, has yet to see a revolution the likes of Egypt, Libya and now Syria.
It’s been more than a year since the beginning of the Green Revolution in Iran, and the murder of Neda Agha-Soltan by an Iranian militia — turning her into a martyr in the fight against the country’s brutal regime and a symbol of the hope for democracy among its people.
While reading a recent article in Foreign Policy, I learned that at the same time that Neda Agha-Soltan lost her life, another young woman with a very similar name also lost hers — only she is still alive. In a rush to scoop each other, media outlets confused the identity of the woman whom the world saw bleeding to death on the streets of Tehran with one Neda Soltani who was busy with her university studies and far from the mass demonstrations.
• A group of religious Israeli women, many of whom live in West Bank settlements, are touting a new approach to raising children that has five-year-olds doing dishes and sweeping floors. “Based on the psychological theories of Alfred Adler and borrowing from traditional Jewish sources, [these women] aim to fight what they see as a worrisome trend in the Western world that is producing spoiled, maladjusted children who are unable to cope with the challenges of being adults,” The Jerusalem Post reports.
• As Sisterhood contributor Elana Sztokman recently wrote, juggling work and parenting is just the reality for most women. But the juggle seems to be harder on American working parents — regardless of income bracket — than on parents elsewhere in the developing world, according to a new study from the Center for American Progress. The study found that 90% of American mothers and 95% of American fathers report work-family conflict. What’s behind those numbers? Well, the researchers say that it’s because America lacks the family-friendly policies that other countries have adopted and formalized. “Only the United States lacks paid maternity-leave laws among the 30 industrialized democracies in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development,” the report states. “… Discrimination against workers with family responsibilities, illegal throughout Europe, is forbidden only indirectly here. Americans also lack paid sick days, limits on mandatory overtime, the right to request work-time flexibility without retaliation, and proportional wages for part-time work. All exist elsewhere in the developed world.”