The Iranian women protesting against the Islamic regime won TIME’s 2022 Person of the Year reader poll. The women in Iran were also named TIME’s 2022 Heroes of the Year.
More than 3.9 million votes were cast by readers for whom they believe is the person or group with the greatest influence on the year. Iran’s protesters received 28% of the vote.
Led principally by and for women, the protests began as an outpouring of grief over 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in the custody of Iran’s morality police after she was detained for “improper hijab.” Now in their fourth month, the protests have transformed into a national movement demanding the freedom of choice for millions of women in Iran, who detest the government’s mandatory, and often brutal, enforcement of Islamic law.
The protests have also been remarkable for their unprecedented size and speed, and for the way they have centered the voices of Iranian women, who took to the streets to chant “Zhin, Zhiyan, Azadi” (woman, life, liberty), burn their headscarves in bonfires, and vocalize their discontent to demand change.
Despite the country ranking near the bottom for gender parity globally and the government continuing to curtail women’s rights, Iranian women have a long history of political activism and pushing the boundaries.
Authorities have continued to crack down on the protesters, which has resulted in mass arrests and the deaths of civilians, activists, and journalists. Those arrested include Niloufar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi, the two young female journalists who first brought to light Amini’s case on the global stage. Still, the movement shows no signs of abating.
Second place in the poll was K-pop sensation BTS—who ascended to the zenith of global pop stardom—with 9% of votes.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky came in third place with 6% of the vote for leading the Ukrainian people as Russia invaded and rallying the world’s attention to the war. Zelensky and the spirit of Ukraine were ultimately named TIME’s 2022 Person of the Year, which is chosen by TIME’s editors.
In fourth place was music superstar Taylor Swift, who released her 10th studio album and announced her “Eras Tour” to launch in 2023. Swift received 2% of the reader vote.
Finally, Ketanji Brown Jackson—the first Black female Justice in U.S. history to be confirmed to the Supreme Court—came in fifth place, with 2% of the vote.
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