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At International Women's Day event in Tucson, Afghan and Iranian women take the stage

Published: Thursday, March 9, 2023 - 5:56pm
Updated: Friday, March 10, 2023 - 7:50am

An International Women’s Day event drew several dozen people to downtown Tucson on Wednesday night to highlight women’s rights issues in Afghanistan and Iran. 

The event was hosted by the national advocacy group We Are All America and the Tucson Afghan Community — a local group established to support Afghans evacuated to the U.S. after Taliban forces took control of Afghanistan. 

Meheria Habibi, one of the founders of the group, left Afghanistan more than 20 years ago. She said women in her home country today are facing some of the same issues as she once did. 

"I couldn't access education, during the first time when Taliban took over, and I had to flee Afghanistan," she said. "It's history repeating itself, and that's really heartbreaking to see."

Habibi said she's returned to visit Afghanistan over the years and watched women withstand many challenges to get an education. But that's been impossible for months now, after Taliban forces banned women and girls from attending schools.

"They said that they will not back down, they will not stop," she said. "They went to university in pursuit of higher education and pursuit of, you know, the hope to be able to contribute back and rebuild Afghanistan, and unfortunately in August of 2021, that all changed."

Meanwhile, protests inside Iran and around the world are ongoing after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish-Iranian woman who was detained by Iran's morality police for allegedly not wearing her headscarf properly, died in police custody last fall. 

Habibi said members of both communities decided to come together for the demonstration in Tucson.

"I want to make sure that they understand they’re not alone in their fight, that they’re not forgotten. I want to make sure that their voices are heard," she said.

Fronteras Social Justice