Fighting for Democracy

All around the world, women are spearheading the fight for democracy, freedom and human rights. The images of the Belarusian women confronting Alexander Lukashenko's security forces with flowers in their hands are the most vivid and recent example. They embody the contrast between the peaceful protest of Belarusian society and the violent response of the state apparatus against the desire for more freedom and democracy. However, not only in Belarus, but in almost all of the major protests movements of recent years – such as Poland, Lebanon, Hongkong, Venezuela, Myanmar and many others – women have played a central role in the struggle for democracy, freedom and human rights. Recent research by Erica Chenoweth from Harvard University shows: When the presence of women in a protest movement is high, the protests have a significant chance of success. There are three reasons for the connection: Firstly, the more women are involved, the greater the social breadth of the movement. Secondly, women act in solidarity; for them, it is the common goal that counted, not individual success. Thirdly, women protest peacefully, without violence, which ensures them broad social support. But what particular challenges do women have to face? What kind of societies are they fighting for and what are the concrete – often personal – consequences of fighting for freedom as a woman in often repressive environments? The #femalechangemaker series and the documentary movie “Women Leading Protests – Fighting for Democracy” portray outstanding women, such as the human rights activists Masih Alinejad from Iran, Marta Lempart from Poland, Luna Safwan from Lebanon, María Corina Machado from Venezuela or Maryna Rusia Shukiurava from Belarus, who are shaping political developments and push for democratic change.