Women use blogs, videos and cell phones to publicize events and educate people about revolutionary issues. Asmaa Mahfouz, 26, is called the Leader of the Revolution because of her famous video appealing to men’s honor to come to Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Her family forbade her to demonstrate on the street and cut her off from the Internet, so she used her phone to organize from her bedroom. Libyan women lawyers were pioneering organizers against Gaddafi in Benghazi and women started uprisings in Lebanon and Israel. Natalia Morar, 25, a Moldovan journalist organized a protest against rigged elections that attracted 20,000 people storming the parliament building in 2009. This was called the first “Twitter Revolution.” Like other organizers she was surprised at the turnout of young supporters.
Young women’s courage is astounding: Anyone who follows world news has heard of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani advocate for girls’ education since she started writing a blog for BBC at age 11. She represents a pattern of outspoken first-born women who were encouraged by their fathers. When her teacher father was asked about his influence, Ziauddin said, “You should not ask me what I have done. Rather you ask me, what I did not do. I did not clip her wings to fly. I did not stop her from flying.”[i] A traditional stimulus for women’s leadership was belief that holy spirit was guided them, like the teenage Joan of Arc, or the 19th century women founders of US religions Christian Science and the Seventh Day Adventists. Today the inspiration for young women and men activists willing to put their lives on the line is justice, freedom, and dignity rather than the holy spirit, political party, union or class.
[i] “Malala Yousafzai,” NPR.org, October 15, 2013.