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IRANIAN WOMEN AFTER THE ISLAMIC REVOLUTION

Ansiia Khaz allii


More than thirty years have passed since the triumph of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, yet there remain a number of questions and ambiguities about the way the Islamic Republic and its laws deal with contemporary problems and current circumstances, particularly with regard to women and women’s rights. This short paper will shed light on these issues and study the current position of women in various spheres, comparing this to the situation prior to the Islamic Revolution. Reliable and authenticated data has been used wherever possible. The introduction summarises a number of theoretical and legal studies which provide the basis for the subsequent more practical analysis and are the sources from where the data has been obtained.
The first section considers attitudes of the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran towards women and women’s rights, and then takes a comprehensive look at the laws promulgated since the Islamic Revolution concerning women and their position in society. The second section considers women’s cultural and educational developments since the Revolution and compares these to the pre-revolutionary situation. The third section looks at women’s political, social and economic participation and considers both quantative and qualitative aspects of their employment. The fourth section then examines questions of the family, the relationship between women and the family, and the family’s role in limiting or increasing women’s rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The Egyptian blogosphere: home of a new feminism

Laura Pitel

Has there been a time in your life when you experienced, felt or even heard about a story at the heart of which lay the oppression of a woman because she, a female, lives in a male society?1These were the first words of an email sent in 2006 to Egypt‟s female bloggers, calling upon them to speak out about the problems faced by women in their society. The authors of the invitation were a group of five female Egyptian bloggers who, weeks earlier, had begun We are all Laila – a blogging initiative set-up in order to shed light on the frustrations of being a woman in a patriarchal society. On 9th September, over 70 bloggers contributed to We are all Laila day, successfully creating a storm both in the world of blogging and beyond.The group formed at a time of enormous growth in Egypt‟s online sphere. The popularity of blogs – websites usually run by an individual, made public for anyone to read – took off in the three years up to 2007: pre-2005 there were around 40 Egyptian blogs,2 by 2005 there were about 400,3 and by September 2006 that number is estimated to have been 1800.4 This parallels the growth in the global blogosphere5 which was home to 70 million blogs by April 2007.

γυναίκες, work, and Islam in Arab societies

Yusuf Αυτή η

Arab societies are currently in a state of confusion. Problems of underdevelopment,inequity, institutional deficiencies, and illiteracy are rampant (Arab HumanDevelopment Report, 2002). Arabs seem to be in a futile search for a new identity ina world that is transforming: power structures are shifting, societal expectations arechanging, and male-female relations are developing. The Arabs seem to yearn for anew identity that does not displace them from their roots, and at the same timeconnects them to the future; the search seems incessantly fruitless. Even non-Arabsseem to be confused about the issue. Vivid movie images mostly portray the Arab maleas a primitive, fanatic, brutal, lunatic, vicious, and splendidly prosperous individualwhile the Arab woman is portrayed as a belly dancer or whore, a veiled submissivemember of a luxurious harem, or a speechless oppressed character with no identity(Boullata, 1990). The political developments of the past few years did not help bringabout a better image. The rise of Islamic activism, end of the cold war, Huntington’s“clash of civilizations” supposition, and the events of 11th September only reinforcedthe bewilderment and confusion.In addressing the notion of women’s participation in the business and politicalarenas in Arab societies, conflicting remarks are brought forward. Some refer to therole of culture and the prevailing religion in the area – Islam and interpretations ofIslam – as possible reasons for such lack of participation (El-Saadawi, 1997; Mernissi,1991). Ισλάμ, it is asserted, is not merely a set of beliefs and rituals but is also a socialorder that has an all-pervading influence on its followers (Weir, 2000). This essayattempts to present varying discourses pertaining to women’s work and how it isimpacted by interpretations of Islam. We present current discourses from variousviewpoints including Muslim scholars on the one hand and active feminists on theother hand. We address the disagreements that exist in the camps of the religiousscholars in their interpretations of religious texts impacting women and their work. Inaddition, we tackle the feminist discourse pertaining to the role of Islam, orunderstandings of Islam, in their participation and development.