Freethinking Prisoners: Women in Iran

They go to university, sit in Parliament and profoundly shape the Iranian society. Yet their life is strictly controlled and limited by the men of the Islamic revolution. A short insight on the condition of women in Iran.

By Can Yildiz / 17.2.2018

If we think about Iran, normally we immediately associate it with veiled women and a lifestyle shaped by religion and restrictions. The reality, however, is different. Women play a really active role and exert a greater impact on Iranian society than many people could imagine. For instance, 60% of the students in Iran are females. This percentage, which is almost the same in Europe, is remarkable, if we consider the fact that Iran is a theocratic republic. As far as education is concerned, Iranian women don’t miss anything. In the 1960s, at the time of the monarchy, they actually explicitly encouraged the education of women.

In 1979, women played a fundamental role in the overthrowing of the Shah, hoping it would help to create a more democratic and free society. The outcome of the Islamic Revolution, however, was exactly the opposite: oppression and restrictions. Of course, that was a cause for great disappointment among Iranian women, who were confident and well-educated.

The subsequent discrimination of women today remains deeply rooted in the Middle Eastern Islamic Republic. Although Article 3 of the Constitution obliges the state “to eradicate unjust discrimination, to guarantee equitable access to all resources and spiritual areas to everyone,” in the Islamic Republic that does not automatically guarantee gender equality as well.

In fact, women cannot pursue certain types of careers, such as being a judge, and legal depositions made by women are worth half of those made by men. And the discrimination continues in everyday life: domestic violence is a daily occurrence and many common activities, like going out, are simply impossible or can have serious repercussions on Iranian women and girls.

With all these restrictions, however, we should not forget that we are talking about confident and well-educated women, who are fighting against oppression and are using all the freedom they have been given. Women have not been completely excluded from the labor market; today, they are journalists, teachers, and they even sit in the Parliament. At least in the big cities, the strict dress regulations are liberally interpreted.

If there is another revolution in Iran, women will be at the front line for self-evident matters: freedom, equality and an autonomous life.

This article was first published on, the magazine of the Young European Federalists. The content they produce is also published in French, Spanish, German, Dutch and Italian.


Can Yildiz (Germany)

Studies: European Law

Languages: German, French, English, Dutch, Swedish, Turkish, Spanish

Europe is… liberty, peace and progress.


Chiara Cettolin


Sarah Robinson (United Kingdom)

Studies: French and German Language and Literature

Languages: French, German, English

Europe is… complex and invaluable.

This post is also available in Deutsch, Español, Français, Italiano, Malti, [Main Site] and Русский.

Author: Anja

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