Jin Jiyan Azadî : Social Media Activism in the feminist movement in Iran and colonizing Kurdish ideology

On September 13, 2022, the young kurdish woman Jina Amini underwent an attack by the morality police for allegedly not wearing her hijab “right”. According to Iran’s veiling policy, she “broke the rules”, which led to her death by severe police brutality. With several eyewitness testimonies, Jina was assaulted and beaten up at the police station. She then was brought to a hospital but didn’t survive her injuries of assault. The story of her death dragged the whole world’s attention. A big wave of a feminist movement was born. Women all over the globe went outside to protest, standing against the Islamic regime and showing solidarity to all the young women like Jina that unjustly got their life taken away.
The Iranian government reacted to the international uprising with various lies and claimed that her death resulted from a heart attack. Jina was not the first woman that lost her life to the patriarchal and oppressive state of Iran, but her death specifically sparked huge protest, and social media played a big part in this, within Iran, but also internationally.

The Protest of Kurdish women

Although the Protest waves were triggered by the death of Jina, different contextual elements have also contributed to the uprising, including gender inequality, the immense lack of human rights especially for minorities like Kurds or Baluchis and a highly corrupt economy. Still, the aspect of gender inequality was the main subject that brought women to the Protest’s front lines against the Islamic Regime’s systems of gender apartheid.

When the first rules of gender apartheid were issued in 1979, Kurdish women immediately started protesting the mandatory Hijab. As a response, the regime enforced even stricter policies and continued to reinforce the Islamic outfit. Since then, the so-called “morality police” vans and patrols have been lurking on the streets of Iran to
violently sanction the women that do not follow the „Islamic rules“. The focus within the discussion of female uprising stayed on the hijab, the headscarves, and the dress code. But to fully understand the feminist movement, a full contextualization of the sexist alignment of the Islamic Regime is indispensable.

After the revolution in 1979, a grand scheme of new rules was introduced, like the law of Inheritance, in which a male son inherits twice as much as a daughter. The age of marriage was lowered to the age of nine with the Islamic revolution, which legalized child marriage, child sale and rape. Women’s rights for a divorce were taken away, men received the right to divorce their wife at any time, while women did not receive such liberty. These are just a couple examples to give a broad orientation of the
hyper-patriarchal status quo in the country, which especially the youth is frustrated with and express their humanistic opinions on social media platforms. The involvement of Gen Z in the protests have been considered as one of the movement’s main assets, but their fate is even more heartbreaking. According to multiple human right groups, within only one year at least 60 underage children have been killed by the regime across the country by official numbers, the dark digit must be way higher. 70% of the executed Protestors being Kurds1.

Too many very young protestors have also been detained without utilizing safety measures that are necessary for underaged individuals in custody. Consequently, their parents are kept in the dark about their children’s fate, do not know whether they are alive, killed, detained, transferred, or arrested. In a wider scheme of the Protest, the international observation of the movement focused on the fight against gender apartheid, as the first waves of demonstrations targeted the compulsory hijab and the
morality police as an immediate reaction on Jina’s murder by the regime. However, the main strive of the protests was the explicit fight against the regime and the request for change.

Jîna Amini, a Kurdish woman

The Protest under the slogan of Jin Jiyan Azadi has been enlightening for many people globally. Jina has become the main face of the feminist movement and sparked up to date the biggest female revolution in Iran. But even her name has been spread falsely. For this analysis, the geopolitical context of Iran must be theorized. The life conditions and the political situation of the people that live on the margin in Iran are majoritarily Kurds and their oppression differs significantly to the Iranians living in the center in Tehran. This discussion is crucial for the question of distribution of ethnic and racial groups that exist within Iran. Because Jina was a kurdish woman, she was already systematically discriminated and was viewed as a lower-class individual, living on the margin just like millions of other Kurds. Her name “Mahsa” was being used
and popularized in the social media sphere and this holds linguistic importance. Jina was never presented as the kurdish woman she was, but rather as Iranian in social media discourses. Because of the consciously created poverty by political decisions in rural areas, migration increased from margin areas to more urban areas like Tehran. Territorial integrity plays a central role for the ethnic groups and their reality in Iran. The biggest ethnic groups in Iran include Persians and Kurds.

Kurds have a long history of neglect and hyper-oppression across the 4 countries in the Middle East that they are situated in, also in Iran. For the center of Iran, where all the power is centralized, it is important for the rulers to have strict control over the margin regions and margin groups. Contrary to what the global international community assumes and observes through social media campaigns, the feminist Protests in Iran did not start with Jina Amini’s death suddenly. The Protests
have a long and diverse history of Kurdish women in peripheral areas in Iran that endure extremely bad life conditions by being the poorest ethnic group in Iran and victims of discriminatory policies. But this did not hold them back from protesting in loud tones for decades. During all these years of heavy Protest, kurdish women barely, to never, got any social media attention, even after Jina, a kurdish woman, became a symbol. #Jinjiyanazadi in its root demonstrates the strong ethnic connection between the kurdish people, especially women and their resilience and does not stop in Rojhelat, but through the borders, from Rojhelat to Rojava to Bakûr. The community aspect is extraordinarily big, and the slogan is the main essence to capture the sentiment of the People.


Jin Jiyan Azadi- Woman Life Freedom is a Kurdish slogan that rose from the ideology of the Kurdish freedom movement and the struggle against their on-going oppression across the four countries already mentioned. This radical gender-emancipatory ideology holds the conviction of freeing women of their marginalized position as “the oldest colony” in human history. It is one of the main leading slogans in Kurdish independence and democratic confederalist movements. The fight of Kurdish women is rooted in their belief, that no society can be truly freed from any form of oppression and domination if the women are not freed in the first place. To achieve this revolutionary change, women must organize and defend themselves to radically change the system of patriarchy, that is viewed asthe result of the capitalist and unjust systems.

The first time that the world heard of this slogan was in 2015, when the female Kurdish defense units, the YPJ (Yekîneyên Parastina Jin) have voiced this in their fight against ISIS, an Islamist Terror Group that massacred thousands of Yezidis, Kurds, Arabs and other religious and ethnic minorities in NorthEast Syria. After winning the fight against ISIS and expanding an alternative direct-democratic system in Rojava (North-East Syria), Kurdish women continued pushing their ideology and stayed loyal to their slogan of Jin Jiyan Azadi. A form of self-determination, renouncing the nation-state system to promote democracy, active pluralism, ecology, and, most importantly, women’s empowerment. The slogan holds a long history of systematic, extrajudicial killings and the excessive use of military force against Kurds, that are even noted in human right reports. Almost every UN report on the human rights situation of Kurds in Iran have recorded the violations on Kurds in their economic, social, and cultural rights. A disproportional and significant number of Kurdish political prisoners lose their lifes under the death sentence in Iran and underline the daily domination of Tehran over other minorities. The Iranian regime has consistently otherized and discriminated against Kurds through direct discrimination policies and forced socio-economic subordination. As a result, Kurdish regions became poverty-stricken with the highest unemployment rates in the whole country of Iran while is it one of the richest areas of natural resources, including oil and gold.2

The role of Social Media Activism within the movement

Jina’s murder shed a light on the endless list of inequalities that women face under the rule of an Islamist regime. Her story found a big place in digital geographies and led the promotion of feminist ideologies on different platforms. Although street protests, majoritarily implemented in peripheral Kurdish cities, have been the main method of demonstrating discontent with the Islamic regime, other symbolic acts and mostly performances that also had an impact on spreading attention like cutting hair, revolutionary artwork, writing songs etc., everything documented on camera. The whole world watched videos of women cutting of their hair in rage which became the main nternational symbol of the movement. What stands behind it is that cutting off hair is also a sign of grief rooted in ancient Kurdish history and a symbol of mourning among ethnic Kurdish tribes. This act turned into a global movement and many people, including politicians, artists and even athletes started cutting their hair.

These acts of Kurds in revolutionary disobedience against the state sparked thousands of online campaigns and posed diverse questions of why the Iranian government imposes control over women’s bodies. Various accounts posted daily footage of the incidents, massively overshadowing the scenes in Rojhêlat (Iranian colonized Kurdistan), where the most intense authoritarian, systematic oppression was implemented against Kurds.

Only during the first month after Jina’s death, the hashtag #mahsamini, using the Persian name she only uses in official state documents, was tweeted and retweeted over 250 million times in Persian (#مهساامینی ) and more than 50 million times in English. Debates about gender politics rose to the top on a global scale. Protestors and Allies connected via Social Media Platforms, thousands of feminists worldwide participated in different dimensions in the Jin Jiyan Azadi Protests and spoke out about the injustices against women.
But what was cut out in the majority of discussions was everything related the Kurdish identity of Jina as the symbolic figure of the movement, the marginal situation and doubled oppression that minorities face in Iran and the Kurdish ideology of the women’s movement, called Jîneoloji, literally translated to “science of women” where the globally spread slogan of “Jin Jiyan Azadi” has its true roots. With the attention that Jinas murder and the movement received, the climax of global support could’ve
effectively been used to dive further into the ideology of Jîneoloji and the movement of women’s freedom from their oppressed position in MENA regions. But the whole movement was portrayed as Iranian and discussions stayed in the content framework about women forced to hear the Hijab in Iran. But Jinas death had bigger stories to tell and more contextual information to be spread.

The feminist Kurdish ideology, that thrives to break the patriarchy in the Middle East and has been in their implemented process since decades, could’ve gained a big amount of popularity as a stem of science. Because the incident occurred relatively recent, there has not been much unfiltered papers to this issue, which is why this paper aims at correcting the false descriptions of Jina’s murder and using the truth to spread the real Kurdish feminist ideology.

Through social media and the system of a generated algorithm, Allies across the globe were inspired to seek change, fight against the Islamic state, protest at schools, burn their Hijab and take action on the streets. It lies under our responsibility to give credits to those women fighting, risking their lifes in the face of intense oppression in order to make Jina’s story unforgettable to the whole world. If we comprehend ourselves as anti-imperialist thinkers, we have to directly name the colonial act of falsely claiming the most historical feminist movement to be of iranian descent. The kurdish-feminist ideology is revolutionary and seeks freedom for all oppressed minority groups everywhere in the world and has potential to drastically change patriarchal and colonial systems. It has never been, and will never be, Zen Zendegi Azadi. Woman, Life, Freedom will always mean Jin Jiyan Azadi!

  1. Himdad M. (2023): „The Execution of Kurds By The Islamic Republic Of Iran”, in: Memri ↩︎
  2. Human Rights Watch (2022): Iran. Events of 2022, in: Human Rights Watch. ↩︎

1 Kommentar zu „Jin Jiyan Azadî : Social Media Activism in the feminist movement in Iran and colonizing Kurdish ideology“

Kommentar verfassen

Deine E-Mail-Adresse wird nicht veröffentlicht. Erforderliche Felder sind mit * markiert

Nach oben scrollen