A bi-lingual (Bahasa Indonesia and English) website, wherein you can find more detailed an colourful reports of the development of the WELDD programme in Indonesia was launched: Goto www.perempuanmemimpin.com

Iranian Women's Alternative E-broadcasting

Funded by HIVOS (including Zanan TV and Radio Margin), November 2010 – December 2011


a. Context:

After Ahmadinejad came to power in 2006, the women’s movement was more successful than other movements (e.g. the students’ movement or the labor movement) in continuing to mobilize civil society in Iran.

In a context where demonstrations are banned and where participation in demonstrations bring severe penalties, women activists were nevertheless able to mobilize two major demonstrations in 2005-6. In 2005, around 10,000 people demonstrated in front of the University of Tehran. In 2006, around 500 demonstrated in Hafte Tir Square. These valuable experiences of mobilizing people to participate in high-risk demonstrations now serve as a template for the democracy movement’s mobilization of millions through ICTs and satellite-based media. Two significant campaigns took place in 2006 – the One-Million-Signature Campaign and the Stop Stoning Forever Campaign. Such advocacy was non-violent and reached out to large numbers of citizens, including not only the thousands who came out to the streets to demonstrate, but also many more who accessed the websites of these campaigns in their homes. The One-Million-Signature Campaign had a dedicated website for every province in Iran, adding up to 22 websites altogether, which enabled networking between provinces.

Following the botched election, the Iranian government now uses draconian methods to suppress the democracy movement. All women leaders in the movement have been harassed, imprisoned, and tortured. Many have been forced into exile. But the women’s movement remains a significant force in Iran. In fact, the very configuration of the democracy movement – popularly known as the “Green Movement” – is derived from successful networking approaches pioneered by the women’s movement.  What makes the women’s networking so successful is the shape of the network, not the numbers involved. Unlike the top-down, bounded structure of Iranian political parties and NGOs, the women’s movement has an amorphous shape. It is informal and democratic. There is no fixed leadership but there is a substantial core made up of key activists, who act autonomously yet collectively.

Despite the importance of the women’s movement in Iranian civil society, women and women’s concerns are nevertheless being marginalised in the democracy movement. This situation echoes the historical experience of the 1979 Islamic Revolution when women participating in the political process waited for the revolution to be completed before demanding their rights. But the time for their rights never came. The consequences of that mistake have been suffered by women in Iran in the last three decades. If women continue to be marginalised in the democracy movement, then it is possible that even if there were to be a regime change, women’s marginalised and disempowered position may not change.


b. Intended Impact:

“Iranian Women’s Alternative E-broadcasting” is an e-broadcasting platform dedicated to women’s rights and concerns. Iranian women, within and outside Iran, have expressed the need for the Women’s Movement to have its own e-TV and e-radio channel. Iranian Women’s Alternative e-broadcasting is intended to meet this need by providing vital information on women’s issues, a space for shaping discourses on gender equality as part of all political agendas, and a means for mobilizing the political and civic participation of women from all sectors of society.  IWE believes that the participation of women is an essential component of the democratisation of Iran.   


c. Strategy and Objectives:

The strategy for building this alternative space is to develop an innovative e-broadcasting platform called Zanan that includes e-TV, e-radio, e-archive, e-learning, and e-campaigns. This e-broadcasting platform will:

  1. Provide an alternative space for women to meet, interact and organize in cyberspace
  2. Enable the sharing of trustworthy information by women for women
  3. Build women’s capacity to develop their own video and audio contributions
  4. Fill the current gap in the information provided by opposition media outside Iran that generally ignore women’s rights and issues.
  5. Build gender-sensitive discourses
  6. Strengthen women’s resistance to authoritarian and disempowering forces
  7. Enable interactive and collective feminist analyses of democracy
  8. Feminize the democratization movement

This project aims to address the following problems:

  1. Suppression of women’s rights by the misogynistic forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran 
  2. Women’s marginalization in the democratizing movement, called the “Green Movement”, despite its diverse political orientations, including religionists and secularists
  3. The lack of civil society space to enable Iranian women activists to meet, interact and organize
  4. The need to promote gender equality as a core value in all agendas for political change

d. Implementation /progress:

“Iranian Women’s Alternative E-broadcasting” is being led by two IWE members, Mahboubeh Abbasgolizadeh and Vivienne Wee. The project coordinator, Mahboubeh Abbasgolizadeh, is an Iranian women’s right activist and alternative filmmaker. Vivienne Wee is a public intellectual and researcher with extensive experience in empowerment of women in Muslim contexts.

Phase 1 (2011) of the project will focus on the building and launch of the Zanan e-broadcasting website, with an archive of 100 existing video resources,  on-line and on-demand TV programmes, a film channel showcasing different documentary film makers, some being anonymous citizen film-makers, regular   news broadcasts,  information and discussions programmes. 


e. Useful Links / Resources:

Zanan TV web-site (under construction) : http://www.zanantv.org/home