Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pushing the country back to Middle Ages – An Iranian tragedy in Women education

First Iranian women who attended university
The decision was shocking and the reasons were ironic. You may be wondering, about what I am talking; after all there were no surprising move from Iran recently on nuclear front. But, life is not limited to the perimeters of nuclear complexes and missiles. There are about 75 million people living in this West Asian country. And this topic is about one field, which matters a lot for Iran’s future – Education.

Shutting down the door

What is tragic here is the decision of 36 Iranian universities to ban women from 77 college programs, that too at a time when more countries are slowly opening new vistas in front of their women citizen. 
It was only four years back; Majlis Research Centre [Iran] expressed concern about the higher representation of women in education.  According to them, state is wasting resources on women, who are unlikely to pursue jobs.

Women in Iranian universities

A 2006 BBC report states, “...over half of university students in Iran are now women. In the applied physics department of Azad University 70% of the graduates are women - a statistic which would make many universities in the West proud... It is a huge social shift since the 1979 Revolution: Iran's Islamic government has managed to convince even traditional rural families that it is safe to send their daughters away from home to study.”

2010 UNESCO study states that, “women made up about 70% of Iranian graduates in science, more than half in social science, business and law, and more than a quarter in engineering, manufacturing and construction”.

It is ironic to note that when countries like India are promoting women education; quotas are coming in Iranian university programs – for the disadvantage of women. Higher education facilities available to women also represent the respect and freedom of choice available for women in a society. 


However, the stand of Iranian think tank and Universities are confusing. They are considering, the idea of providing higher education in high proportions are a drain on nations wealth. Reason, there are comparatively less chance for women to use the skills they achieved through education to society’s benefit. In short women are under-represented in workforce. 

How far the theory of over education and drain on nation’s wealth is correct? First of all, are men in an endangered position? I don’t think so. As far as I know there is no discrimination against men (except may be in women dominant courses like gynaecology). There may be various reasons for them not to attend higher studies, like joining the work force in the early ages, pure un-interest, unable to crack the entrance exams etc. But we can’t blame women for this, can we?

Underrepresented in Job sector, problem with choice or social system?

“In 2006, at the Bachelor's level, about 40% of men studied engineering, compared to 13% of women; 12% of men compared to 27% of women studied the arts, humanities, education and health related fields” – Brookings. By choice or by university designs many women are in social sciences or humanities – not a job generating sector in a petro economy like Iran.

Under-representation in job sector may have little to do with women’s choice. If we dig more, we may find the reasons like - society’s attitude towards working women, conflicts on women’s role as breadwinner etc.
If a mother is educated, it will do a lot of positive things for their kids. Isn’t it better for the society?


I hope that Iranian supreme leader and president will reverse the position of Universities and put an end to this process. 1979 Iranian revolution owe a lot to students, don’t disappoint them. Iran has the power and resources to educate their citizens and become an economic and scientific powerhouse – please allow me to remember the administration that, science is limited to Nuclear Bombs. Don’t ignore everything else in the pursuit of a goal which may not mean anything to people in the long term.



1. Neah Shah, The “Problem” of Too Many Women: Iranian Universities’ Female Student Ban –
2. Brookings
3. BBC

1 comment:

  1. What an insane logic!! If women are under represented in workforce care should be taken to increase their representation, not that ban them from getting education. And it is not like that all the women who get education,don't opt for a job. So what about those who want to study for a job?? Are they not citizen of Iran? Do they have no rights to get education? May the good senses prevail and women are allowed again in the universities.For a better society,these type of discriminations must stop.