The Organization of Iranian-American Communities-US (OIAC) wishes to promote a democratic, secular, and non-nuclear government in Iran. OIAC was founded to advocate for human rights, gender equality, and religious and ethnic tolerance, while supporting socio-economic justice and ensuring security for the United States. OIAC engages Iranian-American communities and individuals in the USA to help defend and secure those values.
Women’s rights and gender-related issues are essential to OIAC’s mission. Although the women’s rights movement in Iran has had some success, especially in the field of education, there are still severe disparities between the rights of men and women. This distinction almost always favors men with women facing severe penalties—including imprisonment—for speaking up on behalf of women’s rights.
Learn more about different aspects of women’s right in Iran, and discover how you can get involved.
Sexuality and Marriage
Extramarital sex, also known as zina, can be punished by slashing or stoning. These punishments are disproportionately targeted at women. Since women reach puberty earlier than men, young women and girls as young as ten can face criminal penalties, being tried as adults. When married, husbands hold incredible authority over their wives. A husband can deny his wife the ability to travel, which is why NiloufarArdalan couldn’t play in an international tournament in Malaysia. Her husband had forbidden her from traveling.
Since 2012, birth-control programs have had their funding significantly reduced, and abortion is strictly limited. There are 61 listed disorders or abnormalities, which can permit an abortion to occur, but it must be approved and is not ultimately decided by the woman or her doctor. The vast majority of abortions in Iran are conducted under unsafe and hazardous conditions. Some estimates show as much as 5% of maternal deaths are due to abortion, which seems to clearly indicate that illegal and unsupervised abortions do regularly occur.
Activism and Opportunity
In Iran, women can be actively punished and silenced when it comes to political involvement, including voting. Many women were imprisoned in 2009. This was a direct retaliation since they voted for Mir-Hossein Mousavi. Their votes were not counted, and Ahmadinejad took office, despite accusations that the election was fraudulent.
More recent changes in Iran have established laws that discourage women from working and reduce the working hours permitted for women. Women’s-only sections have also been added to the Tehran-Mashhad rail line. This seems to demonstrate that the segregation of women in Iran is increasing rather than decreasing, which reverses previous trends. There is severe inequality for women when it comes to inheritance and economic opportunities, where men are largely favored both by the civil code and hiring policies. Without economic opportunity, economic equality becomes a virtual impossibility.
This is by no means an exhaustive analysis of the struggles that women regularly face in Iran. If you would like to learn about what you can do to help, you’re encouraged to visit the OIAC website. You can also find helpful information at Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. The lives of women in Iran can be improved, but it will not happen without unified efforts.