Feminist Insurgents: Will the Protests in Iran Bring Change?


Demonstrations led by women are posing the most serious challenge to the Islamic Republic of Iran in years. Sparked by the killing of a young woman in morality police custody in September 2022, an inclusive movement has grown to demand freedom, accountability, and fundamental political change. This movement is the most broad-based of any in recent memory, cutting across lines of class, age, geography, and social values, which have traditionally polarized Iranian society.

Even though the protests are small and scattered, they enjoy widespread sympathy and solidarity from those who aren’t ready to join those out on the street. Iran’s political elite is divided and even religious and traditional Iranians, the state’s traditional supporters, are outraged by the killing, and what it represents: a system with myriad failings, increasingly disconnected from the values and aspirations of most Iranians.

The protestors for now are resolutely leaderless – they see this as a strength, but it also leaves them without an interlocutor, and also vulnerable to having their cause hijacked by outside forces, both in the West and the region, that seek violence and destabilization in Iran, for their own objectives.

Amid the women-led uprisings in Iran, the Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship organized a talk on November 4, 2022 followed by a conversation with Iranian author and scholar Azadeh Moaveni moderated by Dr. Vivienne Badaan, Assistant Professor of Psychology at the American University of Beirut. Our guest shared her insights on the current events in Iran and their significance. 

Meet the speakers and moderator


  • Dr. Vivienne (V.) Badaan is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the American University of Beirut who received their Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Psychology from AUB, and their Ph.D. in Social Psychology from New York University.


  • Azadeh Moaveni is an Assistant Professor of Journalism at New York University and director of the Global and Joint Studies Program. Prior to joining NYU, Moaveni directed the Gender and Conflict Project at the International Crisis Group. She holds a B.A. in Politics from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She studied Arabic at the American University in Cairo, as a Fulbright Fellow. She was also a New America Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Kingston University. She is the author of several books including Lipstick Jihad, Honeymoon in Tehran, and Guest House for Young Widows: Among the Women of ISIS. Her research interests focus on how women’s rights, security and political participation are impacted by war and authoritarianism. Her recent reporting has explored women’s recruitment to armed groups, feminist foreign and security policy, and the humanitarian crisis arising from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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