Iran Obstructs Women’s Access to Education, Moves Closer to Segregating University Classes and Bars Women’s Entry to Certain Majors

 

In recent weeks, Iran has taken significant action to segregate university classes, including closing certain majors to women entirely.  Following the release of university entrance exam results for the upcoming academic year, 36 universities announced that they will bar women from pursuing 77 fields of study, such as engineering, accounting, education, counseling, and chemistry.  Additionally, liberal arts programs including economics, administration, psychology, library sciences, and literature will begin reducing gender quotas by 30 - 40 percent. 
 
Following the contested 2009 presidential elections that sparked a protest movement not seen since the 1979 revolution, Iran has focused on gender segregating classes at universities, which have long been seen as a hotbed of political dissent.  Science Minister Kamran Daneshjoo has called the segregation effort a top priority to protect morality. 
 
Iran’s parliamentary commission on education and research has summoned Daneshjoo to explain the recently instated barriers to women’s full access to education. 
 
This move is a significant rollback for women’s rights and educational gains, as women constitute the majority of college graduates, and have outnumbered men at universities for more than a decade. Gender apartheid and field of study restrictions at Iranian universities will no doubt harm the quality of education for female students, as well as job prospects, and have adverse implications for the next generation of college applicants. 
 
 
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To speak out against these actions, write to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who will visit Tehran later this August for the Non-Aligned Movement convening at sg@un.org, or United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay at npillay@ohchr.org.
 
 
 
For more updates on Iran, visit WLP’s Iran page here.
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