Tuesday January 31 2023



Categories:Psychoanalysis here- there- everywhere

Women in Iran/ Our answer to a friend journalist in Italy

The status of women in society is neither a new issue nor is it a fully settled one. Unfortunately in the West, when people talk about Iranian women, they imagine women in other countries adjacent to Iran like Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia.  There is a huge difference between Iranian women and their peers in other Islamic countries.

Iran as the oldest civilization, benefits from a strong ancient cultural background that differs from other Islamic countries and you could not ignore this in your judgment. In this regard we refer you to an article  by Dr. Kadivar  ‘ L’Inconscient Héréditaire’. ‘ And let us emphasize that ‘ the Other of Iran is never where you expect him to be’.’ As Dr. Kadivar said in “Meeting with Mitra – Five months later ” when she was the guest of the ECF, the School of the Freudian Cause.  
  In our country, woman’s right to vote was legislated  half a century ago and nowadays (2016) we don’t have any legal barrier for becoming senior officials. This means that women can even be candidates for the Assembly of Experts, the committee of clerics that chooses the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader.  Women like Zahra Shojaei, Elham Aminzadeh, Masoumeh Ebtekar, Marzieh Afkham and Shahindokht Molaverdi are currently important political figures. Three of them are Vice Presidents of Iran. Not only in politics but also in every field  there are prominent women. Dr. Mitra Kadivar is the best example of such  women.  She has risen from this strong Ten thousand years old civilization.
If we look at our history, we have to say that Iran is one of the countries that had Matriarchy in its history. Women in Iranian Plateau had power  on the earth and in the sky. We have had Goddesses like Anahita. Ancient Persian people thought that the source of life is feminine. In our history, from the beginning until today there are many prominent women. Atossa (An Achaemenid queen who was also  Darius I’s wife and daughter of Cyrus the Great and Cassandane) had a great authority within  the  Achaemenid royal houses and court. Youtab (the sister of Ariobarzanes) was notable for fighting alongside her brother against Macedonian King Alexander at the Battle of the Persian Gate in 330 BC. Artemisia I (queen of Halicarnassus) fought as an ally of Xerxes I, King of Persia against the independent Greek city states. Since the ancient times we’ve been holding a celebration named Sepandārmazgān (a Zoroastrian festival) on 24 February for the respect of women.

In Ancient Persia women were partner with men and active in all walks of life. As per rules of Zoroastrianism women could reach the highest religious position such as Zoot that required extensive religious education.

Out of six Ameshaspandan of Zarathustras religion divinities, three are masculine (Bahman, Ordibehesht, Shahrivar) and three are feminine (Espandarmaz, Khordad, Amordad). 

And about Iran’s mythological history, one of the most prominent examples of which is Ferdowsi’s “Shahnameh”. The women in the Shahnameh are not just celebrated for their roles as mothers. Like Rudaba, they are known for their beauty, intelligence, independence, and fierceness. The epic poem features women as diplomatic envoys and queens. This gives them a degree of political power and, as Davis has written, has allowed the women “to confront the world on their own terms.”

Indeed based on my knowledge there are some places in your country with Iranian figures’ names like ” Ferdowsi Square” in Rome , “Avicenna street” and “Cyrus street”.

Iranian women had an important role in the Constitutional Revolution in 1906  and in revolution in 1979. Nowadays more than half of admitted  in universities are women. Today, Iranian girls between the ages of 15  and 24  enjoy benefit near universal literacy. In many ways, the high female education rate also extends to employment, especially since1992  when the High Council of the Cultural Revolution adopted a new set of employment policies for women. Although women are unemployed at a rate of roughly twice than that of men, one-third of doctors, 60  percent of civil servants, and 80  percent of teachers in Iran are women, according to the British historian Michael Axworthy.(1)

Women also are pioneers in defending of animal  rights and environmental protection and other voluntary activities. 

Public participation is a major factor of sustainability, survival, and dynamics of each and every society. Without public participation, development is not possible. Non-governmental organizations play an important role in organizing and mobilizing massive participation. Moreover, NGOs also play a key role in adjusting the centralized power of the government based on the power gained from the people. Canalizing, adjusting, and voicing the people’s demands as well as transferring them to the authorities can be mentioned among the other roles of NGOs. They are also effective in monitoring, decision-making, and consultancy for the governmental bodies or at international meetings and assemblies.(2)
Freudian Association is an NGO and most of its members are women! and this is another instance of the prominent presence of women in my country.
Based on the United Nations Human Development Index, Iranian women and girls have had an outstanding progress in education, research, science, entrepreneurship, employment, and sanitation and despite the existence of severe and unprecedented unilateral sanctions against our nation, Iranian women have moved towards excellence, progress, and predetermined goals. It is worth noting given the new government’s approach based on “moderation, prudence, and hope”, a new series of women’s efforts and activities within the framework of women and family as well as public discourse on moderation has already started that is hoped to accelerate the success of women and enhance their status. In the meantime, promoting the level of the women’s national machinery to the Vice Presidency for Women and Family Affairs (formerly known as The Center for Women and Family Affairs) has strengthened this hope. At present, the mission of this Vice Presidency is to prepare the ground for realization of a gender balance in different aspects of women’s life by taking a new approach and using all the existing potentials and political will for more support of women’s human rights.(3)
At this time the major challenge of women in Iran is the low presence of them in decision-making positions including few female MPs. Gender discrimination is still an issue, especially in high office, but progress is being made.
This era belongs to women all over the world, and Iran is not different from the rest of the world in this matter. Women in Iran similar to the most of countries in the world have some problems on their way to achieve,  something called “glass ceiling”. But you have to know these barriers aren’t much more than those in developed countries. These barriers are not rooted just in our religion and laws. Women have to try and participate more in the society.

If we talk about attitude of Islam towards women, we must say in Islam being a woman or a man is not an honor; Only Piety results in superiority. At a time when female children were buried alive in Arabian Peninsula and women were considered transferable property, Islam honored women in this society by elevating them and protecting them with unprecedented rights.  In that time Islam gave women in Arabian Peninsula the right to education, to marry someone of their choice, to retain their identity after marriage, to divorce, to work, to own and sell property, to seek protection by the law, to vote, and to participate in civic and political engagement. If nowadays we see another images of women in places like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and etc, it is because of  Jahiliyyah (Ignorance) which is continued in these societies from 1400  years ago and Islam could not change it.

The most important religious commemorations for Shiites is Ashoura, with the central role of Lady Zeinab. Lady Zainab, the daughter of Imam Ali and Sayyeda Fatima Zahra , was an exemplary woman of great ability, intelligence, knowledge, insight, courage and perseverance; she performed her divine duties to the best of her ability. 

In this regard I point to Dr. Kadivar’s  saying in “ Meeting Mitra Kadivar in Paris, towards Brussels”: “The history of Iran is very old and its conversion to the Shiite Islam only occupies about the last quarter of that history. Pre-Islamic influences (Zoroastrian and Mithra-ism) are very strong in the country. The women don’t have the same status as in the Arabian countries where the influence of the Sunni Islam is extended. In Iran, I can assure you, culture and knowledge are very much validated, which explains my privileged place in that country.”

And I want to end this effort to explain our situation, by a part of Dr. Kadivar’s article ” Qaal ou Haal (Dire ou Jouir)”. (4)

 “Il y a quelques mois, dans une soirée bien charmante et très gaie à Paris, une question m’a été posée par une personne éminente : « alors en Iran, il n’y a pas d’hybrides, les femmes sont des femmes et les hommes sont des hommes, à cause de la ségrégation ? » Moi, j’ai été plutôt stupéfaite. Je ne comprenais rien. Est-ce qu’on avait fait un hybride homme-femme en France, par des manipulations génétiques ? Mais non, il y avait la phrase « à cause de la ségrégation ». Mais alors qu’est-ce que voulait dire le mot hybride ?

  À vrai dire, j’ai été étonnée et vexée en même temps.

   Étonnée, parce que je ne comprenais pas pour quelle raison l’Iran devait faire exception à la règle générale. D’autant plus que je pouvais jurer que la chère personne n’avait rencontré qu’un seul spécimen des êtres sexués de ce pays, moi précisément.

   Vexée, parce que si elle a trouvé que le seul spécimen, en face d’elle, n’était pas complètement un hybride, pourquoi l’avoir mis sur le compte de la ségrégation et avoir ainsi cru à la réussite de la volonté du maître et supposé l’échec des efforts des femmes, en Iran, pour obtenir leurs droits civils ? Car obtenir l’égalité des droits des deux sexes est une cause qui vaut la peine de se battre pour elle, même si à la fin on n’a que des hybrides. J’ai même insisté sur le fait que pour moi, le mot hybride n’avait d’autre sens que génétique.

   Je me suis rapidement débarrassée de ma vexation en répondant qu’il n’y avait pas une telle ségrégation en Iran (sous-entendu : à même de créer autre chose que des hybrides). Mais l’étonnement persistait, précisément parce que la question venait d’une personne éminente.

   Est-ce qu’elle a su, est-ce qu’elle l’a vu, ce que je cachais si soigneusement?”


(1)  http://thediplomat.com/2013/09/the-slow-rise-of-irans-women/

(2),(3) http://www2.unwomen.org/~/media/headquarters/attachments/sections/csw/59/national_reviews/islamic_republic_of_iran_review_beijing20.ashx?v=1&d=20140917T100722

(4) http://freudianassociation.org/?p=12473


  Date of Publish: 18 March 2016