Gender Equality in Iranian History: From Pre-Islamic Times to the Present
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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.
“The rights and conditions of Muslim women, the issue of the hijab, women’s status in the teachings of Islam and gender equality in the Quran, their position in tradition and modernity have been the subject of a vast amount of literature. This book brings a bold new perspective to the causes of gender stratification in Islamic societies and focuses on Iran. The author argues her case with passion, but it is rooted in scholarship based on a variety of sources ... Dr. Derayeh’s analysis goes to the root of cultural patriarchy. Yet the quest for social justice and gender equality thrives in many spheres and through many expressions by Iranian women because it is based on the important concept: I Act, therefore, I Am.” – Professor Ratna Ghosh, McGill University, Montreal, Canada; Member of the Order of Canada
“Dr. Derayeh’s study represents an extremely important contribution to scholarship on a difficult and often vexed topic. It has the merit, first, of being almost comprehensive in its overview of the subject, including a careful analysis of historical attitudes towards women within the Iranian context ... Dr. Derayeh’s book sets a new standard for discussions of women and women’s rights in Islam. It is timely but so firmly grounded in the historical and social context, and takes such a long view, that its discussion and findings will continue to resonate for years to come ...” – Professor Eric Ormsby, The Institute of Ismaili Studies, United Kingdom
“Dr. Derayeh presents an informative, thoughtful, compelling, and insightfully critical study and analysis of the effects of Islamic cultural practices and Quranic teaching on the educational and socio-economic status of women in contemporary Iran ... The author’s presentation of the personal stories and professional lives of prominent Iranian women, including Nobel prize-winning Iranian justice Shirin Ebadi, brings an unusually poignant, but also chilling, voice to the issue. This work is a valuable contribution to scholarship in the fields of education, Islamic studies, and women’s studies, within a matrix of Iranian Islamic socio-religious, education and economic issues; it compels the reader to reflect critically as well on these same issues in other societal contexts.” – Professor M. Louise Cornell, Providence College and Seminary, Manitoba, Canada
Table of Contents
Foreword by Ratna Ghosh
1. Women Before Islam
2. Emancipation or Shallow Hope?
3. Iranian Women under Islam
4. Modernity and Tradition
5. Voices Unveiled
6. Iranian Women: Then and Now
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