A further piece in recognition of International Women’s Day to follow on from my previous post about Afghanistan. This article from the Open Democracy site by Nasrin Alavi gives a fascinating insight into the challenges faced by women in modern Iran.
On one hand, it is clear women are participating in Iranian society in very significant ways:
the nationwide literacy rate for girls aged between 15 and 24 has risen to 97%; while female students in state universities outnumber male ones. Women have transformed Iran since the revolution. A third of all doctors, 60% of civil servants and 80% of all teachers in Iran are women.
At the same time, some of the barriers to freedom and power are still very strong and very harsh:
On Sunday 4 March, around thirty-three Iranian women – as far removed from (President) Ahmadinejad as you can get – were arrested in Tehran. These women had gathered outside Tehran’s revolutionary court in solidarity with five of their friends, charged with organising a rally in June 2005 against discriminatory laws against women. Only two days earlier, they had published an open letter asserting their rights to the freedom of peaceful assembly that are afforded them by the Islamic Republic’s constitutional laws.
Interestingly, Iran has one of the highest proportions of bloggers of any country in the world. This may be a result of high literacy, combined with constraints on free speech elsewhere – or maybe it’s something else;I certainly don’t profess to be an expert. In any case, Nasrin Alavi has written a book on this, which I’m sure provides some insights.