pictory: Promotional Film on Women during Pahlavi Era (1970's)


pictory: Promotional Film on Women during Pahlavi Era (1970's)
by Darius Kadivar

Promotional Film commissioned by Iran's Minister of State for Women's Affairs to showcase the various organizations dedicated to defending Iranian Women's status and demands in society during the Pahlavi Dynasty: 


The struggle for women's rights in Iran has been closely associated with the Pahlavi dynasty. Reza Shah dramatically abolished the veil, which he saw as the emblem of an obsolete tradition, gave women equal educational opportunities, established the girl guide movement, and encouraged women to work outside the home.

His son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and immediate family continued to struggle for the full emancipation of women, and Iranian women up to 1979 did enjoy a high degree of equality with men.

The most important advancement of women's rights occurred in 1963 when as part of the reform of the electoral law they were given the right to vote and to run for any elected office. In the last parliamentary elections during the Shah's reign, over one million women voted, and out of 99 women candidate 19 were elected to the Majlis and two to the Senate. A women  was also appointed to the Cabinet, in a new post as Minister of State for Women's Affairs. See Mahnaz Afkhami, presently running the Foundation for Iranian Studies (FIS) in Washington D.C., endowed by Princess Ashraf Pahlavi.

Women were playing an increasingly active role in public life, as well as obtaining a fairer share of the educational opportunities to them. In 1960 only 185,700 females were attending I school and university, some 10 per cent of total enrolment. In 1976,  the number was over two million, and the ratio of females to males rose to over 35 per cent. The number of female students undergoing higher education went up at an average annual rate of 65 per cent.

Better education was enabling women to get better jobs. The ratio of women in the labour force has rose from seven per cent to 13 per cent in less than ten years, and women were entering the labour market in a much wider range of fields and at higher levels of skill and competence.

The main body concerned with women's rights is the Women's Organization of Iran (WOI) established in 1967 with Princess Ashraf Pahlavi as its president. The year 1975 was a parti ularly active role for the Organization, and Iranian delegations participated in a number of international gatherings, particularly the U.N Conterence on Women's Rights in Mexico, at which Princess Ashraf proposed the formation of a permanent research and training institute for women's affairs, which was established in Tehran. At the Mexico conference Princess Ashraf made the point that "all the efforts and instructions of political leaders cannot prove effective if women themselves do not participate in socio-economic and political programmes to grant them equality."

WOI was running family welfare centres, the number of which rose to 97 in 1976. At these centres, child care, vocational training, family planning and legal advice were among some of the main services provided. WOI also played an active role in Iran's literacy campaign with the emphasis on teaching women marketable skills as well as the ability to read and write.

In the field of research WOI was carrying out some interesting projects, including studies of the social, political and economic problems facing women, on the basis of which it would have proposed further new regulations aimed at ensuring more equitable conditions. Iranian laws were being reviewed to locate possible areas of discrimination, and school textbooks scanned to ensure that obsolete and pre-conceived notions of women were completely eliminated.

Recommended Watching:

HISTORY FORUM: Women Right's a 100 Years Struggle

Recommended Reading:

Eminent Persians by Abbas Milani

Related Blogs:

Female Ministers in Pahlavi Era (1970's)

WOMEN RIGHTS: Princess Ashraf Chairman of Women Status Commission (1965)

Women's Day: Mahnaz Afkhami Pioneer Feminist (1975)

Women's Day: Farah, Jihan, Mahnaz Tehran (1970's)

Women's Day: Reza Shah and Son visit School Girls (1930's)

Women's Day: First Women to Attend Tehran University (1940's/1950's)

Female Ministers in Pahlavi Era (1970's)

Eminent Persians: Mahnaz Afkhami International Women's Conference in Mexico City (1975)

Eminent Persians: Mahnaz Afkhami International Women's Conference in Mexico City (1975)

EMINENT PERSIANS: Poetess Parvin E'tesami Greets Iran's Crown Prince at Library (1940's) 


more from Darius Kadivar

Quebeqi jaan

by ThePope on

De ta bouche à l'oreille du bon Dieu.
On espère que cette année sera l'année...    -Amen  


Merci et à toi aussi bonne et heureuse année 2010.   ;-)


Document Historique

by Quebeqi on

Many thanks Mr. Kadivar for posting this document historique about the status of women before 1979. I know many Québécoise feminists who would be interested to see this. Unfortunately it is in Persian only and the vast majority of my hamvatan do not know the language. Since my Persian is also very limited, is it possible to have access to an English (or a French ;)) translation of this footage? I'm certain that a lot of Québécoises will appreciate to see this film where Iranian women are surgeons, policewomen, soldiers, engineers, and all who they wish to be.

Merci encore! Vos documents sont toujours un régal à regarder. :)

Et à M. Le Pape: Bonne Année en retard! Et la liberté en Iran pour 2010!


Thanks DK

by divaneh on

It just shows how much we have descended and how much good work has been undone. Very nostalgic.


We will put an end to the 2nd invasion of Arabs soon

by Faramarz_Fateh on

22 days to 22 of Bahman.  TAKE ACTION.



by Fatollah on

man nemidonam in che "bakhtak-ee" bood ke be joonemoon oftad vae hanooz dast bardar niist!

I feel so sad, at the of the clip, there was the picture of the girl who reminded me of someone! There was so much hope to sense towards the end of the clip."... vae digar be khatre inke aanhaa dokhtar hastan, ghorbanie tabeez jensi nemishavand ..."





insightful details

by Fatollah on

thanks a lot.



What a treasure!

by Princess on

Sometimes I wonder if the pace of our development had been slightly moderated, we would have avoided the bloody revolution and all ensuing consequences which have set us back many decades. 

Thanks for sharing this DK. 

Farah Rusta

Under the IRI,women lost their identity as humans

by Farah Rusta on

They have half the rights of men in the eye of their laws. They have restrictions on their clothing, headwear, footwear and cosmetics. They are not allowed to enjoy the same status as men in such fields as medicine, engineering and law. Their testimonies are counted as half of a man's testimony and if marreid they have travel restrictions unless allowed by their husband. They are treated in the same ranking as the mentally impaired and the under-age.

The IRI leaders under their masters (China and Russia) are million times more corrupt than all other leaers in the history of Iran put together. Their violation of human rights records are among the worst in the world. They have betrayed Iran and they have betrayed Islam.

Now how about this for an alternative view?



Darius jaan

by ThePope on

Amazing clip, THX for sharing...

Ahhhh, can you just imagine that if the first mullah dynasty of Iran(Persia) had ruled continually 'till today, our society would have not been struggling/fighting to recover back our real Iranian identity... 


f*#! the islamic republic, its rulers, stupid $upporters and their backward ideologies.




by bahram9821 on

Darius , thanks for the great clip.


During Shah families were backward and anti woman

by IRI on

Dear friend Mr. Kadivar. To clarify the confusion about some of the glorious past I have to let you know that on the image, Iran was very modern. In pictures and works, Iran was about to be the next Japan and would rule the world with its Aryan power. However Mr. Kadivar, the reality was far from this image. There was no move to truly modernize Iran. The population of Iran felt weak and hopeless and were frustrated about the lack of progress in the country while in the hands of Pahlavi corrupt rule.
I am not going to draw a picture that the world and history has already drawn. Here is one important factor that we all must understand and recognize: Iranian society wants to reach its goals and the state of modern society within its own cultural values. When I say people, I am talking about the very essence of the society that values our traditions in every point in our holly soil.
Iranian women from one class, naturally, were able to show "progress" while in thirty years from "backward Islamic" laws they were able to progress as one the most advance class of the population in the entire Middle East in every corner of the country and not just northern Tehran.
Now imaging if Shah was not a puppet...This is what it means to be politically independent, that with your worse kind of government you still are better off than a Western slave. Look at Egypt and alike for more example of what Iran would have been.

Ba Dorood.