Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Iran's medieval ban

Iran's latest assault on women's equality, closing off many professions, is economically absurd and culturally tragic.

Around the world, Shirin Ebadi is the face of Iran's tragic retreat from equality for women. Awarded the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her legal and advocacy work in human rights, Ms Ebadi, Iran's first female judge, is also known for Iran Awakening, her 2007 memoir of how she lost her post as the 1979 revolution led to major constrictions of women's rights.

No wonder, then, that Ms Ebadi has spoken out forcefully against Iran's shocking new restrictions on higher education for women. Thirty-six universities have banned women from 77 fields of study: engineering, nuclear studies, pure chemistry, accounting, translation, English, maths, forestry, computer science the list goes on. "Some fields are not very suitable for women's nature," a top education official, Abolfazl Hasani, told an Iranian news agency.

How ridiculous, and how sad. By this medieval measure Iran not only shoots its own economy in the foot but also betrays and repudiates a key element of a long, sophisticated cultural tradition.

In an open letter to UN officials last week, Ms Ebadi said these rules "demonstrate that the Iranian authorities cannot tolerate women's presence in the public arena". Why? Perhaps because Iranian women consistently outperform men in academic achievement.

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Lionel Richie performed many of his hits from the 1970s and 1980s at the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre. Jaime Puebla / The National

Lionel Richie dishes out the hits to Dubai crowd

At his Dubai concert on Thursday, Richie greeted the audience with “Yalla habibi” – a statement of intent as his energy rarely let up.

Tyrese reunited with Fazza

Tyrese today posted on his social media accounts (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) his pleasure at being reunited with the Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

 Falconry is an activity where they demonstrate how falcons catch prey while flying at a speed of almost 360 kilometres per hour. Mona Al-Marzooqi / The National

In pictures: Adventure in the desert at Abu Dhabi's Qasr Al Sarab

Mohammad Ashfaq, an adventure guide at the Qasr Al Sarab resort, Abu Dhabi, showcases a day in his working life.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

Video: Local reactions to a national fishing ban

A federal fishing ban has been imposed by the UAE federal government, but local authorities are taking diiferent approaches to implementing the ban. Two fishermen tell two very different sides of the story. Produced by Paul O'Driscoll

 An Egyptian Orthodox Christian priest give communion during the Palm Sunday service inCairo, Egypt. Mohamed El-Shahed / AFP

Region in focus - April 18, 2014

The best images of the last seven days from around the Gulf and across the Middle East.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National