Micro-stories of Light: Progress for Women in Iran and Google’s New Movement

Written by: Amelie

Edited by: Sarah

Visual by: Yana

Myanmar’s shattered democracy; India’s protests against discriminatory farming laws; Donald Trump’s recent acquittal from impeachment proceedings. As these foreboding headlines plague our newsfeeds, the commencing Year of the Ox has truly reared its ugly head. Though moments of respite are few and far between, micro-stories of light continue to emerge, proving to be a much needed reminder in these seemingly desolate times. Without further ado, here are some headlines to restore your faith in the world:

1. Iran Passes Bill to Protect Female Victims of Domestic Abuse

Women’s rights activists in Iran

Following a years-long campaign spearheaded by women’s rights activists, the Iranian government has formally passed the “Protection, Dignity and Security of Women against Violence” bill— a pivotal legislation designed to not only prevent violence against women, but provide a multitude of resources to female domestic abuse victims. The bill’s provisions include 

  • the formation of a inter-ministerial national committee to directly respond and draft strategies in relation to violence against women,
  • the designation of special police units, restraining orders, and additional funding to support female victims of domestic abuse, and
  • the provision of psychological support for female victims of domestic abuse.

Iran has had a turbulent history regarding domestic abuse towards women. Previous studies revealed that 53% of married women in Iran were subjected to domestic violence in the first year of their marriage by their husband or in-laws. In addition, the same study showed that 9.63% of women reported “wishing their husbands would die” due to the abuse they had experienced. [Moradian]

Thus, according to Iran researcher at Human Rights Watch Tara Sepehri Far, “for decades, Iranian women have been waiting for comprehensive legislation to prevent violence against women. With the growing national attention to this important issue, the law is long overdue, and parliament should not waste any time in adopting it.” [Human Rights Watch]

Though the bill has gaps within its provisions, the “Protection, Dignity and Security of Women against Violence” bill serves as an optimistic avenue for future legislations to safeguard women’s rights. 

2. Digital Literacy in the Philippines

As Filipino citizens adjust to a technology-driven world, Google Philippines has aided in promoting responsible digital practices in its newest campaign entitled ‘Cyberpeace,’ partnering with NGO Teach Peace Build Peace Movement and the Department of Education to provide resources outlining digital etiquette and literacy [Lazo]. The campaign includes social media webinars, animated and spoken word poetry videos, and even a zine-style magazine.

A sample page from zine-style magazine ‘#YouThink: Fight Fake News

When launching ‘Cyberpeace,’  Google Philippines’ country director Bernadette Nacario stated that the campaign’s mission is to “help Filipinos be more secure online and address issues like scams, misinformation, cyberbullying, and cancel culture” through the key topics of “critical thinking, internet safety and online kindness.” She added that “as we get to community quarantine with less restrictions, people spend more and more time online, and this motivated us to continue the ‘Cyberpeace’ program.” 

The campaign has been met positively, with its social media webinars reaching over 416,000 netizens mostly composed of students and teachers. Especially due to the Philippines’ excessive consumption of social media [Sanchez] (the Philippines was formerly hailed as the ‘social media capital of the world’), Google’s ‘Cyberpeace’ is a much needed campaign in these ever-changing times. 

3. Environmental Reforms for China’s Yangtze River

China’s Yangtze River

Following dangerous levels of overfishing and chemical pollution, the Chinese government has passed the ‘Yangtze River Protection Law,’ an environmental legislation designed to protect China’s longest river. The law—which is to be put in place by March 1—is considered the “largest environmental protection bill” for China’s rivers, with 96 provisions to ensure the Yangtze River’s full recovery from environmental degradation. The law’s provisions include banning “fishing on all the natural waterways of the river,” “building or expanding chemical projects within 1 km of the shoreline,” and increased “management of the development of hydropower resources.” 

Host to booming biodiversity and numerous anthropogenic uses, the Yangtze River plays an integral role among locals, generating “20% of the nation’s GDP (Corbley).” Thus, the government’s newfound preservation efforts is a massive achievement for Chinese citizens. 

Through these micro-stories of light, the BT team hopes to shed some light amidst turbulent news cycles, and help bring some cheer with good news. Have a fulfilling rest of your week, Bearcats!

If you liked this article, make sure to check out the original “Micro-Stories of Light” by Andie – see here! [This article’s headline and formatting can be attributed to her]

Works Cited

-, Andy Corbley, et al. “China Passes Landmark Law Protecting the Yangtze – One of China’s ‘Mother Rivers’.” Good News Network, 10 Feb. 2021, http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/yangtze-river-to-receive-massive-legal-protections/.

-, Andy Corbley, et al. “Iran Has Passed a Bill That Would Protect Women From Domestic Violence.” Good News Network, 27 Jan. 2021, http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/iranian-womens-rights-law-passed-through-executive/.

Foundation, Thomson Reuters. “China Seeks Better Protection of Yangtze River with Landmark Law.” News.trust.org, news.trust.org/item/20201230015909-kvagi/.

“Iran: Adopt Draft Law to Protect Women.” Human Rights Watch, 4 Dec. 2020, http://www.hrw.org/news/2020/12/04/iran-adopt-draft-law-protect-women.

Nika Lazo, ABS-CBN News. “Google Launches ‘Cyberpeace’ Campaign to Promote Online Safety and Kindness.” ABS, 16 Feb. 2021, news.abs-cbn.com/business/02/09/21/google-launches-cyberpeace-campaign-to-promote-online-safety-and-kindness.

Sanchez, Published by Martha Jean, and Jul 24. “Number of Social Network Users in the Philippines 2018-2023.” Statista, 24 July 2020, http://www.statista.com/statistics/489180/number-of-social-network-users-in-philippines/#:~:text=The Philippines have been called,as being highly internet-savvy.