Cheryl offers: The world has been transfixed by the image of a young 27 year old Iranian woman dying in the recent presidential election protests. I must admit, I cannot bring myself to view the video because it hits too close to home. My own daughter is 27. However, it has been the topic of conversation for days now everywhere I go. This was a woman of courage, conviction, and strength.
In fact, in the few photos coming from Iran, I’ve seen the faces of many women adding their voices to the protests. It brought to mind the story about other strong, determined women documented in the book Followership by Barbara Kellerman. In February 1943, the German Gestapo had arrested about ten thousand Jews. While most were sent immediately to Auschwitz, about two thousand were detained in Berlin on a street named Rosenstrasse. These were men married to non-Jewish women. As the news of the arrests circulated across Berlin, hundreds of women gathered in protest, shouting “Give us our husbands back!” Less than a week later, Goebbels himself issued an order that released not only their Jewish husbands, but also their children who had been taken. Who knew the Nazis ever backed down? Who knew it could be because women joined forces to create real change?
Being rational, physically strong, assertive, ambitious, confident, analytical, and courageous are words frequently used to describe great leaders. They are also words I would use to describe the actions of women like Neda and the Rosenstrasse protesters. Recently I heard someone say a sign of leadership was someone who could “See a need; fill a need.” Indeed, Neda has shown us all how that is done.
Sara adds: Amen.