Nowruz festival brings attention and solidarity for women’s rights in Iran and across the globe

Phoenix Vice Mayor, Yassamin Ansari, first and only Iranian American elected to public office in state of Arizona attends event


Nowruz gathering in downtown Phoenix—candlelight and solidarity moment of silence for women’s rights and equality across the globe

Gabby Williams, Reporter

The second annual Nowruz festival was held last week at the Civic Space Park in downtown Phoenix.

 More than a thousand people gathered together throughout the day and evening to celebrate the first day of the Persian New Year and the global movement for women rights.

 Phoenix Vice Mayor, Yassamin Ansari, organized and collaborated with local vendors and sponsors to make the festival come to life.

 This year, the Nowruz focus was not only to celebrate the Persian New Year but to also bring awareness to women in Iran and around the world who are fighting for their basic human rights and equality.

 “As the first and only Iranian American elected to public office in the state of Arizona, I think it’s incredibly important for us to uplift our communities—representation is extremely important in all areas and I want to be able to hold this space, to be able to celebrate this beautiful culture,”     Ansari said.

 Sadaf Hakeem, the Refugee and Immigration Services Women Empowerment Coordinator spoke to Northeast Valley News and explained the organization called, Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest, which offers a variety of classes and programs to refugee women in need as well as child care on sight.

 Hakeem explained the need for private organizations to become involved in aid to women across the globe.

 “So really our purpose is—our mission is to educate these refugee women, support them and empower them so they can be self-sufficient so they can be independent and stand on their feet,” Hakeem said.

 Northeast Valley News spoke with Native Arizonan, Emily Michael, who said she had found out about the Nowruz Festival through a friend and wanted to become a volunteer.

 Michael created an art piece of handprints to represent solidarity for women’s rights.

 “Something I think the east valley can use more of is a cultural identity, we have such a diverse population here, and I feel like we don’t celebrate or learn about it enough so I was really excited to hear that this was going on as an opportunity to learn more about Persian culture,” Michael said.

 As the celebration came to a close, Nowruz volunteers passed around red roses and white tulips to the crowd to begin a candle light vigil to honor women, girls and allies fighting for their basic human rights. The community gathered together in the center of the park to stand together and observe a moment of silence for all the women in Iran and Afghanistan.

 Ansari announced that Arizona Governor, Katie Hobbs, officially made March 20, Nowruz Day in Arizona.