Surprising Facts about Iranian Society

Literacy rate: 

In 2006 the United Nation announced Iran as the 9th in line of the highest rate of literacy among all nations.  82% of the Iranian adult population is now literate, well ahead of the regional average of 62%. This rate increases to 97% among young adults (aged between 15 and 24) without any gender discrepancy.

Literacy Corps was established in 1963 to send educated conscripts to villages. During its first 10 years, the corps helped 2.2 million urban children and 600,000 adults become literate. This corps was shut down with the Islamic Revolution.  In mid 80s the corps re-established and continued its work.  

Higher Education:

Iran has 92 universities, 512 online University branches, and 56 research and technology institutes around the country. There are currently some 3.7 million university students in Iran.  1 million of them are medical students.  31% of them studying in Engineering and construction programs, one of the highest rates in the world.

In 2011, majority of students (65%) enrolled in Iranian Universities were women. Each year, 20% of government spending and 5% of GDP goes to education, a higher rate than most other developing countries. 50% of education spending is devoted to secondary education and 21% of the annual state education budget is devoted to the provision of tertiary education.

Clothing Restrictions:

In 1925 Reza Shah took over the throne in Iran.  One of his main goals was “westernization” of the country.  To reach this goal he started from dress code.  He forced women to wear western clothing and wearing Hijab was forbidden in public.

1n 1979 with victory of the Islamic Revolution, one of the first things Ayatollah Khomeini did was leading the country away from western influence.  And in this path one of the first things he did was to require women to covering themselves in public.

In the past decades the Hijab has been a big dilemma for women and a game in domestic policy among different parties.  Today women have been relatively successful choosing their outfits, mostly in color and design but they have to cover their head and body when in the public.   

Women’s Status:

Of the 272 members of the Iranian Parliament or Majlis, there are only eight women elected to the 8th Majlis (elected in March 2008).  By comparison, there were four women in the first, second, and third Majlis; nine in the fourth Majlis; 14 in the fifth and sixth Majlis sessions; and 13 in the seventh.

There is one woman in the President’s cabinet.

Iranian women are active in all forms of art as well as business and teaching, including in universities.   Iranian women are lawyers, physicians, engineers, bus and taxi drivers and sales persons.  Women also are active in all forms of sports.

Researched by Leila Zand


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