Dr. Minoo Derayeh is Assistant Professor at York University in Toronto, where she is a specialist on Islam, World Religions, and Gender Studies. She received her Ph.D. from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Her research interests focus on gender and religion, modernity and tradition, and religion and social justice.2006 0-7734-5813-1
The changes that affected Iranian women’s lives after the coming of Islam in the seventh century were similar to the changes that occurred in their lives after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. In both cases these changes were largely wrought by men.
Iranian women have been actively involved and have participated fully in diverse religious, political, and social contexts since the eighteenth century, but frequently without recognition. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the belief that education was a pillar of freedom began to gain popularity among Iranian women. Their efforts to secure an equal place with men in the nation’s educational institutions received support from a number of women writers and poets in the form of protests and petitions. The twentieth century, however, witnessed the destruction of most of Iranian women’s hopes and quests. Different Iranian governments enacted a series of important laws and regulations touching on “women’s issues” without allowing any input from women.
In the last two decades, under the Islamic Republic, laws and regulations affecting the status of Iranian women came in the form of different religious decrees that were justified by the argument that they all complied with the Quran and the shariah
. Iranian women have refused to abandon their quests for an equal status. This is their story.