Demonstrators hold Woman, Life, Freedom sign in Toronto

Hopeful Hair: A Wall of Hope

Like so many around the world, YWCA Metro Vancouver staff were moved to action after the death of Mahsa Amini, a young Kurdish woman who died after being arrested and beaten by the “morality police” in Tehran because of "inappropriate attire.”  

As protests against the Islamic Republic of Iran and its oppressive rule erupted, we watched as young girls and women banded together around the world and cut their hair in defiance. The cutting of hair became a potent symbol and act of protest in the women-led revolution in Iran — an act that the YWCA supported with a demonstration last December in Vancouver and Toronto. 

To encourage Canadians to stand in solidarity with Iranians, we partnered with creative agency Rethink and YWCA Toronto to produce the Hopeful Hair Wall. On December 3, 2022, we brought the 6x18 ft panel to the WOMAN, LIFE, FREEDOM demonstration at the Vancouver Art Gallery and invited community members to cut a lock of their hair in solidarity and add it to the installation. People from all backgrounds participated, and the result completed the words WOMAN, LIFE, FREEDOM.  

The panel was then shipped to Toronto and on December 18, 2022, YWCA Toronto’s staff marched alongside the community carrying the Hopeful Hair Wall during a demonstration attended by thousands of supporters.  

Our goal with the Hopeful Hair Wall was to send a powerful message and show Iranian women that they are not alone. To help continue the conversation, we launched, a site that offers ways to get involved and support Iranians. 

We extend our gratitude to our generous sponsor BBTV, BBTV Chair and CEO, Shahrzad Rafati, and to Rethink for making this campaign possible.  


"The Hopeful Hair campaign is a testament to the global citizenship of Canadians, and the humanitarian importance of the situation in Iran. Millions of people in Iran, particularly women, are protesting for their freedoms at a time when their voices are being stifled. We must be their voice at this critical turning point in history. Stand and act in solidarity with the brave women and men striving for change." 

- Shahrzad Rafati, Chair and CEO, BBTV Holdings 


To learn more, visit and to get involved with YWCA advocacy campaigns, contact Amy Juschka at | 604 895 5810. 


This article is part of the 2023 Spring/Summer edition of our Contact Newsletter. 
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