Feminist movement articles

FEMINIST MOVEMENTS – Encyclopaedia Iranica

FEMINIST MOVEMENTS in Persia. The struggle for women’s rights that began in the mid-19th century and, more specifically, on the eve of the 1905-09 Constitutional Revolution (q.v.) and continued to the present time has been one of the main forces for democratic change in the 20th century Persia.

The principle concerns of the women’s rights movement in Persia have been equal access to modern education; improvements in health and hygiene; removal of the veil and other changes in traditional gender roles and household relations; greater employment opportunities for women, specifically in the professional arena; greater participation in different spheres, including women’s suffrage and political representation; and changes in marriage and family laws. Many of these goals were generally achieved and maintained with the help of the state, while others became the subject of heated political debates in the past decades.

The women’s rights movement in Persia has been influenced by the interplay of adaptive and reactive responses of important social and political forces to modernity in the 20th century. The adaptive secular response to modernity includes the liberal-nationalist orientation of the Constitutionalists, the authoritarian-developmental outlook of the Pahlavi state, and the radical vision of left-wing organizations. Also included in the adaptive response to modernity are the liberal and left-wing religious forces who often have a women’s rights agenda similar to their counterparts in the secular camp couched in their own religious and political discourse. While the adaptive response to modernity helped the enhancement of women’s rights, the reactive response of religious conservatives and fundamentalists (see FUNDAMENTALISM) has remained the main obstacle to the improvement of women’s rights and life conditions in Persia.

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