Iranian university bans on women causes consternation


With the start of the new Iranian academic year, a raft of restrictions on courses open to female students has been introduced, raising questions about the rights of women to education in Iran – and the long-term impact such exclusions might have.

More than 30 universities have introduced new rules banning female students from almost 80 different degree courses.

These include a bewildering variety of subjects from engineering, nuclear physics and computer science, to English literature, archaeology and business.

No official reason has been given for the move, but campaigners, including Nobel Prize winning lawyer Shirin Ebadi, allege it is part of a deliberate policy by the authorities to exclude women from education.

“The Iranian government is using various initiatives… to restrict women’s access to education, to stop them being active in society, and to return them to the home,” she told the BBC.

Higher Education Minister Kamran Daneshjoo has sought to play down the situation, stressing Iran’s strong track record in getting young people into higher education and saying that despite the changes, 90% of university courses are still open to both men and women.

Iran was one of the first countries in the Middle East to allow women to study at university and since the Islamic Revolution in 1979 it has made big efforts to encourage more girls to enrol in higher education.

The gap between the numbers of male and female students has gradually narrowed. In 2001 women outnumbered men for the first time and they now make up more than 60% of the overall student body.

Written By: Fariba Sahraei
continue to source article at


  1. I hear Iranian women are already starting to duff up beardy-weirdies who try to tell them what to wear. Let’s hope this is the straw (OK, too big to be a straw, but you get the idea) that breaks the camel’s back.  Women could be one of the biggest forces that drive Mr Dinnergong out of power. Let’s hope his bunch of pricks don’t shoot any more of them in the process.

  2. I still have hopes that the disillusioned young generation of Iranians, which are now the majority part of the population, start blowing their collective gaskets and getting rid of the old guard. Preferrably before the US/Israel start bombing the country to smithereens.

  3. Perhaps Imadinnerjacket should release a song apologising for restricting access to higher education for whole swathes of the population in the way that Nick Clegg has done in the UK.


  4. Denial? I can show my hair because my vail would be little?
    A lot of people don’t see suppression when it hits them. Especially when it is brought on gradually. The Koran is very clear about women. Women are equal to men but men are one step higher in society. It says so literally. It’s a good illustration of the contradicting nature of the book and therefore it’s no wonder that issues like this will never be settled as long as Muslims will not allow criticism.
    It is true however that Mohammed had a lot of women followers. But that was probably because he gave women some rights in stead of no rights at all as was the case in pre Islamic Arabia.

  5. I’m sorry for these women. It is no fault of theirs that they had the misfortune to have been born in the thrall of a ghastly religion. But I really don’t care a tinker’s cuss. Suppressing the brains of half its population can only spell the continuing decline of this wretched nation and for that we should rejoice.

  6. Countries in the grip of islam have a talent for walking backwards and thinking they’re going forward.

  7. As an Islamic state they are of course afraid of women ; and as for educated women, and educated- in- science women…….what could be worse? 

  8. “No official reason has been given for the move, but campaigners,
    including Nobel Prize winning lawyer Shirin Ebadi, allege it is part of a
    deliberate policy by the authorities to exclude women from education.”

    I don’t think you had to turn to a Nobel Prize winning lawyer for that brilliant explanation. Any person with a severe mental handicap would have got it.

  9. Klaasjansch,

    I’m not so sure that Mohammed improved the situation of Arabian women.  I think they had it better before he showed up on the scene.  It’s pretty much common knowledge in the field of Anthropology that women had more freedom of movement socially and economically before monotheism hit their scene.  Islam probably had the effect of shutting women away from the world and reducing them to a state of financial dependency and reproductive slavery.

      If Mohammed had a lot of women followers as you say, then I think there were some other interesting reasons for that. Certainly he was an Alpha male in his domain, a successful warrior with all the benefits that brings, including a collection of women who wanted to breed with him. Or a collection of women who were assigned to breed with him.

  10. Well, this all depends on who you believe, actually.
    To some extent, some women had the possibility to gain wealth and status. Mohammed’s first wife e.g. was a merchant woman. However, Mahjid Khadduri states that women had virtually no rights in pre Islamic Arabia. They weren’t even considered to be persons. Islam, under the Sharia, actually grants women rights, such as the right to divorce. However, since the Sharia courts tend to be lead by men, women’s rights often stand little chance, although that’s another matter. The idea of rights for women were, if Khadduri is right, a new development.
    Having said that, it makes Islam look like the way to go and Mahjid Khadduri might have been a bit prejudice, although I do have to mention that he was a well respected academic so his studies should be taken seriously. Women did gain rights but equality is a different caliber. Islam certainly doesn’t give equal rights to men and women.
    By the way, Mohammed had nine wives in total although there is still some debate about the true number, since the knowledge about him is mainly from verbal accounts. He is mentioned only a few times in the Koran.

  11. Kaasjansch,

    You said:

    “this all depends on who you believe, actually. “

    All sources are not equal. What we have here is Majid Khadduri vs Anthropology.  I choose to believe Anthropology over this person:

    From Wiki:

    Majid Khadduri (Arabic: مجيد خدوري) (September 27, 1909 – January 25, 2007) was an Iraqi–born founder of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies Middle East Studies program. Internationally, he was recognized as a leading authority on a wide variety of Islamic subjects, modern history and the politics of the Middle East. He was the author of more than 35 books in English and Arabic and hundreds of articles.[1]

    Perhaps he was distracted by the fact that they had no written legal code for treatment of women.  Illiterate pagans can be like that.  “They weren’t even considered to be persons” – Seriously? I can’t even believe how absurd this statement is.  It flies in the face of everything we know about bedouin culture, hunter-gatherers and tribal society in general.  You know, there are plenty of bedouins left still in North Africa and it doesn’t take even a day of observation to realize that their rights are not derived from any legal code written on a piece of paper.  Those women are a force to reckon with and are hard workers, intelligent and skilled.  Their contributions to the family group are crucial to their very survival. Islamic divorce law must have been a shocking disappointment to preIslamic women because what we know from Anthropology is that when bedouin and hunter-gatherer women felt mistreated, they simply quit their group and went off and joined a new one.  I believe the Islamic divorce laws put severe limitations on those women, NOT that they provided fairness. 

    Mohammed’s first wife is no kind of example here.  She was wealthy before she met the guy.  In fact she is an example of a preIslamic woman who must have had the freedom to move about in society and run a business.  Good for her.  Or she inherited the wealth, another right that would be strictly controlled under Islam.

    Look, I’ve never read anything by Khadduri, but it seems pretty obvious on the face of it that he’s a devout Muslim whose objectivity would be questionable. 

    Let them debate Mo and his numerous “wives” all they want.  The whole topic is a sordid spectacle. The guy loved his sexual variety.  He used every means available to him to achieve that.  The end.

  12. Or, another way of saying it: Iranian H.E.M. considers 90% of university courses to be nice but ultimately inconsequential.

  13. Like I said, it depends on who you believe.
    The problem with your approach, I think, is that you extrapolate modern day Bedouin culture to 7th century Arabia. It could but might also not add up. True, in a lot of tribal societies women have unwritten laws. I never said that laws had to be written. However, there are also a lot of tribal societies that mistreat women, including genital mutilation and the likes. I don’t know if that extrapolates to pre-Islamic Arabia but with the information I have (which is probably incomplete) the relatively large number of women that followed Mohammed suggests to me that he had something to offer them. I should stress that I don’t know that but that that is an assumption. A lot of women also followed the Bachwan.
    Mohammed’s first wife was a perfect example for the point I was trying to make.  At least some women were doing well. But that was also the case in medieval Europe. Women were even suppressed in recent Europe during the nineteenth century while Britain had the most powerful queen the world had ever seen. The secular form of government we have has made their emancipation possible, but it wasn’t easy.
    I also mention my reservations with Khadurri’s work, but I also mentioned that he was a well respected scholar. I think it’s better to try to research his findings in stead of rejecting them simply on the assumption he’s a devout Muslim.
    With all this I’m also not trying to say that women are not being suppressed in a large part of the Islamic world. It’s a growing problem that should be dealt with.

  14. Once again we see that religion hold women in utter contempt and believe that the more ignorant it makes its people the more likely it is to continue to be kept in chains of fear.

  15. Klaasjansch,

    “I think it’s better to try to research his findings in stead of rejecting them simply on the assumption he’s a devout Muslim.”

    Sure, I’ll be happy to devote hours of reading time to the source you recommended above, just in case a devout Muslim man, defender of Islam, might have something to say about Muslim women, or any female at all, that could have even one molecule of relevance to actual women living actual lives. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. We can’t overlook this possibility!  

    Therefore, I will start in on this reading and I highly recommend this book to you and all of us regulars on this site for the very same reason.  And you’ll be so impressed to know that it’s written by a “well respected scholar”  !! 😀

  16. I hope this triggers a brain drain.
    Iranian students who are being shut out of their own country’s universities should study in Europe instead. Come to the United Kingdom.
    At a time when UK universities are being starved of funding, and need to find other ways to get more income from tuition fees, overseas students are going to be a life-saver.  Yes, we have a few knuckle-headed people here who dislike foreigners and will want them to go back where they came from, but overall I think Iranian students will find the European experience liberating.

  17. laughing out loud.
    The late Michael Crighton ones said that consensus of the intelligentsia in not necessarily correct.
    He was very right.

  18. Educated females in Islamic countries are in the front-line of struggle against Islamic sexism.  Just think about it: About 50% of the population are females, and these are more oppressed than males.  What happens if these women become more and more influential in the Islamic and oppressive societies?  No further comments needed.

  19. I have seen this before.  She may have been paid by the Islamic Republic of Iran to talk that nonsense.  Or, something is wrong with her.

  20. Hmmmmm!  Mohammed had a lot of women followers?  Are you sure?  
    He had many women including under aged one for his enjoyment for sure.  But, did women have any power under Mohammed’s rule to do anything other than what the prophet wanted them to do? 
    What was the rights women had at the time?  What is the evidence for this claim?  I need to see the evidence.

  21. Thinking about it…. What is important is the freedom of women now!  This kind of discussion can become circular (talking about the past)…  Now, we can see what is going on in Islamic countries.  Now, we can provide any evidence we need without discussing bronze age events.  

  22. “With all this I’m also not trying to say that women are not being suppressed in a large part of the Islamic world. It’s a growing problem that should be dealt with.”

    I do agree.  The solution is demise of Islamic rules (or any religious rules) anywhere on the face of this planet.  Demise of Islamic/religious savagery is the only way. 

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