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Vital Voices salutes the courage of Iranian sports climber Enlaz Rekabi, who competed in the International Federation of Sports Climbing’s (IFSC) Asian Championships this week in Seoul, South Korea, without a compulsory hijab. When Rekabi returned to Tehran today, she was greeted by hundreds of supporters at the airport.

When the video of her defiant climb circulated on social media, you can see resilience and perseverance emanating from Rekabi’s facial expression — likely aware of the severe persecution she could face when she returned home, for not only breaking the mandatory Hijab rule placed on women athletes representing Iran in international competitions, but for also displaying her solidarity with thousands of Iranian women and girls protesting in her country.  From shaving their hair to burning their hijabs in public, the fierce displays of dissent against Iran’s authoritarian and theocratic regime show no signs of ending.

Vital Voices Global Partnership stands with Iranian women and girls protesting for and demanding justice and freedom. All women have the right to choose for themselves what they wear and do not wear, and how they choose to express their identities and voices freely. We must stand by both women in Iran demanding the right to choose not to wear head coverings -AND-  those demanding the right to choose to wear one all around the world.