Dr. Seyed Mohammad Sadati Nejad
Half of the 80 million people in the Islamic Republic are women. The presence and effective role-playing of women in post-Islamic society is no secret to anyone. The social status of Iranian women has had ups and downs throughout history, and this position has many changes at different times. But the Islamic Revolution led by Imam Khomeini made a fundamental and profound change in the status of women in Iranian society, and developed the status of women and expanding their participation and thus liberating them from the yoke of traditional and cultural misconceptions, and has given them a progressive status.
In Iranian society, during the Pahlavi monarchy, despite the tendency of majority of Iranian society towards Islam and its values, the rulers of the time made great efforts to erase the Islamic ideas and replace them with foreign ones. As a result of these actions and the domination of foreign culture, a distinctive and ambiguous social context for Iranian women was formed that didn’t allow any Muslim women to become politically active. Women’s identity and authenticity in the Pahlavi era were completely destroyed, and the Shah’s regime, with the social declaration of women’s liberation, had no purpose but to rob Islamic values and national culture and trample on the true personality of the Iranian woman. About the women’s society before the Revolution, there were two attitudes, the first was regarded by women as a beautiful, enchanting, and entertaining element. In this attitude, the woman was regarded as a weak ivy with no resistance on storm and no serious and important work can be expected by her. Therefore, the only role for woman in the social scene of that day was the goddess of attractiveness, who only knew her role as an attractive girl, her life was empty of goal and spent her life in the dark and unawareness. In the second attitude, women could play a role in society as a woman in western societies, but this can be possible only by abandoning Islamic values and by adhering to Islamic values, no such success in the western societies can be achieved by Muslim woman.
During the Pahlavi era, the false personality given to women, was incompatible with her original Iranian and Islamic identity and could not meet demands of her. As a result of promotion of Pahlavi model of womanhood, which derived from West, high status of Iranian women generally was degraded. As expected, there were not any practicality, creativity and reflection in her personality. Moreover, it fostered immortality and recklessness in Islamic and Iranian society not the culture of economy, social and cultural development. While Iranian Muslim woman owes to a history, culture, religion and society that derive their origin from Islam, therefore, this woman could not be needless and indifferent to Islam when she wanted to nurture her abilities and be herself. With passage of time, during Pahlavi era, the empty, absurd, and objectifying look at women led to the question of “how to be?” in women’s society of those days and the answer could be found in the role, which women performed to overthrow the Pahlavi regime.
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the foremost authority of Iran at that time, in an interview with a journalist said: “Women’s intellect is generally more defective than men’s, and of course there are some exceptions.” Then, two questions were raised that he did not answer. First, weather Shahr Banoo (Farah Diba) would be able to run the country and second, why he had appointed Farah Diba as his successor. He personally, in addition to knowing intellectually deficient in women, was more concerned with the sexual exploitation of women than of pursuing the true status of them. Parvin Ghaffari (16-17 years old), one of the most famous mistresses of Mohammad Reza, has published his memoirs in a book entitled “To the Darkness …” after the victory of Islamic Revolution. She wrote at this book that:” At that time, it was a commonplace that pretty girls were hunted for nights of his loneliness and taken to his court. Even the name of an Italian girl, called “Francesca”, was in the list of the king’s mistresses. When the king of a country sought to exploit women in this way, how you can expect an Iranian woman to achieve her true position in context of society. Therefore, the consequences of such attitude are including:
- Many girls drop out of school because of poverty.
- Lack of security for women in workplace
- Lack of political participation of women in political area, and their insignificant portion of state positions.
- Low level of education of women compared to men.
The Islamic Revolution, Transcendental Education and Role of Women
In spite of all negative propaganda against the Islamic Revolution and its view on women, you witness that for forty years since Islamic revolution, women have become more and more prominent and progressive in Iranian society. In current society of Iran, women and girls are playing an active and pivotal role in progress of society. A significant proportion of young people in universities (in some cases more than half) are devoted to girls, and Iranian women have pioneered in areas of economic, social, medical, education, science and sports day by day women are approaching their true position more and more.
Despite the slander against Islam and religious mullahs based on disregarding women, the attitude of Imam Khomeini (peace be upon him) as a mujtahid and political leader as well as Ayatollah Khamenei as his successor to women, was not only a termination to the false propaganda, pursued by the adversaries of the Islamic Revolution, but it also provided new horizons for Iranian women. For example, on women’s human status, Imam Khomeini says: “A woman is a human being, she is also a great human being, and a woman is a teacher of society. Human beings are born by her…. The happiness and suffering of countries depend on the existence of women; she with her own upbringing can both create human being and improve the society. Any bliss originates from women. Women should be the source of all bliss.”
Ayatollah Khamenei also says that what matters for Islam is the human evolution not gender. Both men and women are sometimes addressed and celebrated on. They are two parts of human entity owing to being two cores of human body. In terms of human and divine aspects, they are not different. The idea of women’s advancement in terms of spiritual and moral should be common among women themselves. The women themselves need to think more about it. They also should turn to cognizance, knowledge, study, basic issues of life. The misguided Western cultivation led women to tend to makeup, luxury, indecent ornamentation and ostentation during the tyranny (Pahlavi) era, which were signs of patriarchy. (Quote the site Hozeh)
These are indicative of the high minded view of the Islamic Revolution and its leaders on women’s high status in the improvement and development of society.