The Role of Women in Advancing Iranian Society Before the Iranian Islamic Revolution.
By: Dr. Shahriar Jahanian
An Overview of The Iranian Islamic Revolution & How It Affected Iranian Women
The Persian pleatue is always at the center of socio-political upheavals since the beginning of modern civilization. Iran – as a country and a society – has undergone several transformations that have shaped her socio-political fabric.
The Islamic Revolution (7 January 1978 – 11 February 1979) is one of the most significant movements in Iranian history that has influenced the country’s socio-political thought process on multiple fronts and continues to do so to this day. It culminated with the toppling of the Pahlavi Dynasty. It was an end of an era of unrest and discontentment, but it also triggered a new struggle for women, denting their cause for equal rights and empowerment.
Women who had benefitted due to Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi’s ‘white revolution’ were affected the most, as the events that followed the Islamic Revolution restricted their role within the society, forcing them to resort to raising their voices against the so-called cultural sanctions. The sanctions implied were a good enough reason to distort their identities. And when the Supreme Leader made the hijab mandatory for females in the early 1980s, it was a setback for women, tarnishing their concept regarding freedom and self-confidence.
Comparison Between Pre-&Post-Iranian Islamic Revolution
The Iranian women had made considerable progress during the Pahlavi era. Education for both girls and boys was free. The 1978-79 revolution steered Iranian women into politics directly and indirectly, yet, the new rules and regulations – explicitly targeting women – did not do much good for them. In reality, the sanctity and sanctions reversed the advancements made in the last five decades. In contrast to the pre-revolution era, the new theocracy created countless obstacles for women to hinder their progress.
Females, including first-grade girls, were required to follow the Islamic dress code. Discriminatory laws were introduced, restricting women’s role in politics and the employment sector. The authorities revoked all family laws. Hence, the country went through an irreversible social decline. Still, during the following three decades, Iranian women’s vigor was unmatched and speaks volumes of their resolve to fight for their rights.
Women’s perseverance, resilience, and commitment led them to establish one of the most dynamic and vibrant movements in the Islamic world that have received considerable support from other celebrated female activists from various fields.
The Role of Women In Advancing Iranian Society
Iranian women have always played a significant role in the social and economic development of the country. Their strong will and wisdom have kept the Persian civilization intact. Keeping in view the changing times, they have also embraced and adapted modern methods, ensuring not to lag behind their contemporaries. Even in challenging times of revolution, their dedication and determination helped transform many women’s future for good.
One such woman, Lili Amir Arjmand, stands out amongst her peers, given her resilience in transforming the country’s educational sector. As a staunch supporter and an advocate for education and literacy, she established the first children’s library in Iran. The project received considerable support from Empress Farah Diba, who was also Lili Amir Arjmand’s friend. The Center for Intellectual Development of Children & Teenagers (CFIDCT) depicts the restoration of faith that children are a valuable resource for the nation and the ones to whom the future belongs.
Moreover, the materialization of this idea was proof that strong-willed women can transform society for the better. The center is now Iran’s most regarded platform for fulfilling many children’s dreams.
The Significance & Achievements of The Center for Intellectual Development of Children & Teenagers (CFIDCT)
The Center for the Intellectual Development of Children and Teenagers (CFIDCT), established in 1965, is the citadel of excellence and success, supporting Iranian students to learn and pursue their dreams, leading them to make positive contributions to the betterment of society.
Since its inception, it has been a hub of art and culture, promoting respect, tolerance, and other rich values that define Iranian society today. The institution was at the forefront of promoting literacy through various educational activities between 1960 and 1970. It also has the credit of producing many known artists, authors, and filmmakers.
As a women-backed initiative, the CFIDCT has made some invaluable contributions to promoting literacy through a combination of workshops on literature and performing arts. It has produced many live-action films targeting the Iranian youth. Some of the most popular stories that garnered global recognition include Amoo Norooz (Uncle New Year). Baba Barfi (Father Snow), Khorshid Khanoom Aftab Kan (Shine on, Lady Sun), and The Journey of Sinbad.
Fast forward to the present; the women-backed initiative has established multiple libraries in many schools for children. And with the advent of mobile libraries, children can have their favorite books delivered to their homes, a much-needed initiative for those living in distant areas of the country.