Term Paper: Women and Iran

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[. . .] It stated that "the women's education and training should be restricted to raising children, home economics and preserving the honor of the family." (A brief history of women's movements in Iran - II) Following the decree, on 20th January 1907, a large scale meeting was held by women in Tehran. This meeting called for the adoption of ten resolutions which included setting up a girls' school. A bolder resolution called for the abolition of the dowry system so as to allow that money to be spent on further education process that was aimed at helping women across the nation. (A brief history of women's movements in Iran - II)

In 1907 following the meeting, Bibi Vazirof opened the 'Madresseh Doushizegan' which was a school for women. This move was widely opposed by various people in the society and soon the school was forced to close its operations. Not long after, it was reopened and continued operations in a more determined format. At about the same time, Toba Azmodeh, another women's rights activist, opened the 'Namus' in the premises of her own house. This was followed by widespread opposition from political and religious circles with even some outlawed mobs and groups threatening to halt its continuation. Despite all dangers that were witnessed the organization continued to outlast the ravages of time thanks largely to the well coordinated and dedicated efforts of many devoted activist. The biggest move can when Mrs. Safieh Yazdi, the wife of the pro-constitution mujtahid, Mohammed Yazdi opened the Effatiyah School in the year 1910. (A brief history of women's movements in Iran - II)

This was hailed as a move for the democratization and widespread acceptance of the social standing of women. This event fueled hopes among all classes of women and it called for more schools and similar organizations to be formed and operated across the nation. Subsequently, in the year 1911, Mahrukh Gawharshinas stated the 'Taraghi' much to the defiance of her hard line husband. In the same year, Mah Sultan Amir Sehei opened the Tarbiyat. Soon women schools were mushrooming all across the nation. By the year 1913 there were nine women's societies and sixty three girls' schools in Tehran with close to three thousand students.

The schools so formed were indeed factories that produced fine generations of well educated women who never failed in their concerted efforts to campaign for women's rights and their social standing. Women such as Touran Azmoudeh, Fakhre Ozma Arghon (Simin Behbahani's mother), Bibi Khalvati, Guilan Khanoum, Farkhondeh Khanoum and Mehrangize Samiei were among the many graduates of these 'modern' schools. Quite soon, male activists too joined the fray to campaign for women's rights and their social standing. Javad Sartip, Mirza Hussein Rushdiyeh, Nasr Douleh and Adib Douleh are among the well-known supporters due to whose financial and moral support, the movement became a reality. With time, women's societies were formed across the nation. (A brief history of women's movements in Iran - II)

In the year 1907, Society for the Freedom of Women and Secret Union of Women were formed. Both organizations played an extensive role in calling for the liberalization of women's rights and their social standing in the traditionally conservative Islamic nation. Subsequently the Association of the Ladies of the Homeland was formed. It was followed by The Society for the welfare of Iranian Women, Women of Iran, Union of Women, Women's Efforts and the Council of Women. These organizations played a widespread role in organizing and promoting causes related to women and addressed issues that were an impediment in the general progress of women. They collected funds, published materials, created awareness and constructed schools, homes, orphanages and other important facilities. All of these groups were actively involved in politics and other forms of national and state affairs. (A brief history of women's movements in Iran - II)

In the year 1915 the Society of Christian Women Graduates of Iran was formed. This was followed by the establishment of the Jewish Women's Association. It was formed with a clear aim of educating women and children in Iran. The communist associates of the Messengers for Women's Prosperity celebrated the International Women's Day for the first time in Rasht in the year 1915. All these dynamics events were accelerated with Reza Shah becoming the ruler of Iran in the year 1926. The monarch emphasized on the need for a more democratic nation and helped snowball the already fiery movement. A great deal was achieved with the concerted and well directed efforts of women across the nation. (A brief history of women's movements in Iran - III)

The monarch and his family encouraged various women's movements and leagues and brought about a climate that signaled equality in terms of rights and status among women. Safiyeh Firouz in 1942 formed the National Women's Society. This was followed by the formation of the Council of Iranian Women in 1944. The council strongly criticized the practice of several social evils including that of polygamy. The Tudeh Party Women's league was among the most efficiently organized women's organization during this period. In the year 1944 Huma Houshmandar published the acclaimed title 'Our Awakening.'

In the year 1949 the women's league was changed to Organization of Democratic Women and several branches and chapters were opened in all the major cities across the nation. Zahra and Taj Eskandari, Iran Arani, Maryam Firouz, Dr. Khadijeh Keshavarz, Dr. Ahktar Kambakhsh, Badri Alavi and Aliyeh Sharmini were among some of the most prominent Tudeh activists. This society was once again changed to be known as Organization of Progressive Women, in the year 1951, it lobbied elaborately for electoral rights and provisions for women but failed in its efforts to obtain anything tangible. By this time Higher Council of Women formed in the year 1949 is taken over by Ashraf Pahlavi. (A brief history of women's movements in Iran - III)

The council opened several branches across the nation based on key developmental aspects and issues such as health, education and charity. By the year 1964, it was changed to Organization of Iranian Women and in the year 1978 it had three hundred and forty nine branches across the nation and hundred and thirteen centers and included fifty other organizations which dealt in women's issues. A study indicates that in the year 1977 alone, more than one million women used the services rendered by the Council. A large number of magazines and journals were published during this time that called for the need to awaken and battle against the injustice done in various sections of the society towards people who were meek and powerless. (A brief history of women's movements in Iran - III)

The role of Women during the Palhavi Reign:

Shah Reza Palhavi was a liberal ruler who advocated modernization and democracy in the nation. He was also a supporter of the movements that called for increased women's rights and social standing. One of his first acts as ruler was the abolition of the veil. This according to him was a major stepping stone in furthering the increased role of women in all dimensions. The dynasty saw the veil as a symbol of an obsolete culturally obsessed tradition that had to be done away with immediate effect. His reign saw the increase of educational opportunities for women and the establishment of the Girl Guide movement. Women were encouraged to work outside their houses and thereby foster important partnerships in social, cultural, educational and political grounds. Palhavi's son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and the royal family jointly embarked upon a program aimed at campaigning for women's rights and the complete emancipation. (The Women of Iran during the Palhavi Era)

During this period dating up to the year 1979, women enjoyed a very high degree of liberty, equality and social standing. One of the most significant happenings during this period took place in the year 1963. As part of the reform process, women were given the right to vote and contest for any public office. During the parliamentary elections under the reign of the Shah, more than one million women voted. Out of ninety nine candidates who stood for the elections, nineteen of them were elected to the Majlis and two of them were elected to the Senate. Following the elections, a woman was also appointed to the Cabinet, in a newly created post as Minister of State for Women's Affairs. Women were playing a very significant role in public affairs and matters of the state. They were also benefiting from superior education policies of the Shah's regime. (The Women of Iran during the Palhavi Era)

In the year 1967, with the support of the ruling family and Princess Ashraf Palhavi in particular, the Women's Organization of Iran (WOI) was established. The year 1975 saw members of the Women's Organization of Iran (WOI) undertaking multidimensional roles, significant of them being the participation of their delegation in the United… [END OF PREVIEW]

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