How women are defying despots

This year’s celebration of International Women’s Day, held every March 8, could be a bit different. Over the past year, women in three of the world’s most oppressive countries – China, Iran, and Russia – have either led mass protests or become the face of anti-regime resistance. Many say their participation shattered a mental glass ceiling, allowing them to express individual sovereignty and a social equality often denied under the three autocracies. 

A good example is Cao Zhixin, an editor at Peking University Press who helped lead a group of women in a peaceful protest last November against the harsh impact of China’s rigid lockdowns against COVID-19.

“She was scared but excited,” one of Ms. Cao’s friends told The Guardian. “She had never seen a public assembly before and that was her first time. After they let out their long-repressed emotions, they felt liberated.”

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