The photograph, of a young Iranian woman alleged named Neda, has become both a rallying cry and the symbol of oppression by Ayatollahs and what's wrong with Islamic or other ultra-religious countries like Iran. She was murdered on the street after she left her overheated car which was stalled in traffic due to a protest.
The facts are that countries are only as successful as the rights they grant to their females. Equal education levels for females always result in lower birth rates, two-family incomes, savings, middle-class growth and greater economic prosperity for a society. This is only common sense: Any society which represses and disenfranchises its females operates with only half its economic IQ and cannot compete or prosper against countries, like China or developed nations, which offer opportunities to both sexes.
What's interesting is that this may go down in history as the first full-scale Pink Revolution. True, there are many young men involved in protests who have also become victims, but the women are standing shoulder to shoulder in a way never before seen in a society that mistreats them so severely.
This is why the genie has left the bottle and Iran will never be the same irrespective of what the current regime decides to do. That's because you cannot repress half a population, you cannot keep them in the dark, you cannot fool the rest of the world.
Bloodshed will escalate
Unfortunately, this current rebellion may end in huge tragedy. It has one of two ways to go: like Ukraine's Orange Revolution or like China's Tiananmen Square rebellion. The Ukrainians successfully turned to the streets, then the courts and international community, to overturn a rigged election. The Chinese took on the communist elite in the hopes of bringing about human rights and democracy but thousands were slaughtered. Even so, reforms followed and the rest is, as they say, history as China manages an unprecedented openness, growing democratic practices and free enterprise.
So how will Iran go?
Ukrainians triumphed because their military and police sided with the cause. I was in Kiev for three weeks during the tensest days of the Orange Revolution as the streets were filled, riot police were everywhere and its Supreme Court deliberated. Every night, one of Ukraine's most decorated generals stood on the podium as a show of support for the Revolution to show military solidarity.
China's attempt failed despite three weeks of standoff between the students in the Square and its sympathetic, conscript army. Eventually, the regime brought in battle-hardened troops from Manchuria to slaughter thousands.
What do the generals want to do?
Iran's outcome will depend on its military. History shows that conscripted armies never murder their own. This means that no matter how much the Ayatollahs threaten, they must deliver the muscle to stop the revolution from bringing the country to its knees.
Whatever the outcome, Iran will never be the same. This is a revolution that has been waiting to happen not just in the country but across most of the Islamic world where women are treated as second-class citizens and disenfranchised educationally and economically.
Iran may be the first Islamic country to implode because the country is very schizoid: A relatively secular society controlled by religious fanatics and headed by a country bumpkin president whose holocaust-denials have made him an international scourge. Despite the medieval mentality of the religious elite, Iran educates most of its young women even though it under-utilizes them in the workplace. Young Iranians are free to travel and the diaspora's influence cannot be underestimated.
All of these conditions have led to this enormous clash. Adding fuel to this fire was President Barack Obama's eloquent message to the Islamic world in Egypt recently about female economic, educational and legal disenfranchisement and how that represents a mass human rights abuse and impediment to progress.
The world's females must back this cause
This is why the blogosphere, twitter network and world public opinion is rallying around the cause of democracy and justice in Iran. This is why Neda is such a compelling symbol for all of us. This is why the women of the world must unite in this cause, and others. We have only our male and religious oppressors to lose.
Diane Francis blogs at Financial Post