Caitlin Doherty ’26
On Wednesday, March 15, the Women’s Herstory Month Committee hosted its keynote speaker event with Iranian activist Masih Alinejad. While she was unable to join in person, Alinejad joined over Zoom to speak with students, faculty, and staff about her journey as an activist for women’s rights. With almost nine million followers on Instagram, Masih Alinejad centers her advocacy on social media and her “My Stealthy Freedom” campaign. This March, Masih Alinejad was named one of Time magazine’s Women of the Year for 2023, and she has also received a number of other activism accolades, including the United Nations Watch’s International Women’s Rights Award. While she currently lives in the United States, she grew up in Iran and often questioned the Iranian government’s oppression of women. She has been exiled from her home country since 2009, according to a Time article. As she spoke during the event, she reflected on her childhood in Iran, “I grew up in a society that was totally brainwashed that ‘My body is the choice of the Islamic Republic. My body is not my choice.’” Her discontent and anger that began in her childhood about how she was treated as an Iranian woman led to her career as an activist for women’s rights against the Iranian regime.
Masih Alinejad launched her journey as an activist after she shared a Facebook post of herself in London with her hair open and free without hijab in 2014. The post went viral as hundreds of women in Iran commented that they wished they could be free of compulsory hijab, leading to Alinejad’s “My Stealthy Freedom” movement, which began as a social media page that shared the images and stories of women in Iran that decided to take photos without hijab. These women came together outside of social media to protest the oppression that they face as women in Iran. “The regime doesn’t allow women to sing solo, doesn’t allow women to enter a stadium, doesn’t allow women to show their hair, doesn’t allow women to be a judge, doesn’t allow women to lead the country; if you don’t call this a gender apartheid regime, then what do you call it?” expressed Alinejad as she spoke to the Trinity community. Many people in Iran have been arrested, tortured, and killed as they protested compulsory hijab and the Iranian regime’s oppressive treatment of women. Masih Alinejad continues to share the stories of these women on her social media every day so that the women of Iran will not feel alone in their hardship. She wants leaders in the United States and other nations to see her posts so that people across the world will come together in solidarity with Iranian women to protest compulsory hijab and the Iranian regime.
This keynote speaker event was led by the Women’s Herstory Month Committee and the Women & Gender Resource Action Center (WGRAC). Masih Alinejad was introduced by Laura Lockwood, the director of WGRAC, and student co-chairs of the Women’s Herstory Month Committee Mya White ’25 and Savannah Brooks ’26. After answering a number of questions from discussion facilitators Professor Janet Bauer of International Studies and Kristina Kendall ’23, Masih Alinejad accepted questions from the audience about her perspective on different international issues and her experience as an activist. She encouraged Trinity students to support women in Iran by sharing social media posts and holding solidarity events. As she shared, “You can write to mainstream media, you can write to local politicians, you can write to human rights organizations, you can write to anyone who can take action for Iranian women.”