LOVED, FEARED, AND REVERED: WOMEN IN POLITICAL MOVEMENTS.

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Author: Choetsow Tenzin
Date: Wntr 2021
From: Harvard International Review(Vol. 42, Issue 1)
Publisher: Harvard International Relations Council, Inc.
Document Type: Article
Length: 1,769 words
Lexile Measure: 1360L

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The ways that mothers, wives, and daughters have equalled activists, protestors, and world changers have been gaining more attention in the modern era. Dressed in white, hand in hand, and chanting together, the women of Belarus gathered in the capital streets of Minsk to form a human chain in protest. The protests followed the results of the recent election where many accused Alexander Lukashenko's party of rigging the election, as their party won almost 80 percent of the vote. Following the results of the August 9 election, protests increased and took a violent turn, with reports of police using excessive force such as water cannons, stun grenades, and rubber bullets. However, it is not the protests and the violence that have captivated international attention, but rather the women leading them. After the violent aftermath of previous protests, many women took to the streets to show their support for the three opposition candidates, two of whom had fled the country in fear of their safety post-election. Since August, thousands of women have taken to the streets in cities across the country to protest, not only against the sheer misogyny their government has shown them but also in hope of establishing a fairer democracy for their country. This is not the first time the world has seen women spearheading political movements. Throughout history, women have often played a pivotal role in organizing mass political movements. However, these brave leaders never seem to receive as much attention as their male counterparts. When examining mass movements and political protests, male figures dominate the conversation and news stories. Behind the scenes, women have been historically stepping up to lead and organize mass movements that not only progress their country's political agenda but also aid in changing their roles in society.

Hidden Figures from East to West

On March 12, 1959, thousands of women--ranging from mothers to nuns--gathered in front of the Potala Palace while Chinese troops stormed into the Tibetan capital city of Lhasa. The sheer mass of people was able to form a thick human barricade between the Palace, where His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama resided, and the invading Chinese troops. While in the past social roles of Tibetan women were often unequal to men, their resilience and bravery were astonishing as they led this mass movement, which lasted over five days and escalated into violence. It was after this series of protests and mass unrest that His Holiness and his escape party fled to India. Without the leadership and political awareness of these women who sacrificed their lives for their country and leader, the future of Tibet and their spiritual leader would be unknown....

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