Education Behind the Veil: The Impact of the Cultural Revolution on Women's Higher Education in Iran




Rezaee, Reza

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The legacy of the 1979 revolution in Iran has been the introduction of a unique theocratic regime, the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), based on Khomeini's (1979) theory of Islamic government. Following this theory, the new regime adopted a constitution that set out to enforce the primacy of Shari'a over civil/common law and the absolute leadership of a Shiite jurist over popular sovereignty. In early 1980, Imam Khomeini, founder and the very first Supreme Leader of the IRI, ordered the Cultural Revolution and established the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution (SCCR), an independent policy-making organization, with the responsibility of Islamizing academia and society in Iran. The SCCR has experienced its power in four major areas: (a) "the country's public culture," (b) the cultural and social affairs of women," (c) "the Islamization of universities and educational centers," and (d) the "art-related issues" (Satellite Councils, n.d.). The Islamization of higher education has had its focus on (a) purging universities of secular elements and ideas, (b) encouraging women to adhere to their traditional role as mothers and the care givers of their families, (c) instituting the spirit of Shiite Islam and its principles in academia and society, and (4) educating students who are loyal to the IRI so that they are equipped with scientific knowledge. This study used a critical perspective to examine the complex and evolving conditions that affected women's higher education in Iran. The study focused on the interactions between Shiite religion and politics and their influence on women's higher education and social life. It, also, examined the role that women students have played as regards such influence. The study revealed that Iranian women, who have been the subject of much discrimination, have worked hard to overcome Iranian men in higher education, and will eventually be the ones to bring about social and political change and the rule of law in Iran.



higher education, women, Islam and culture, professional education of women, Iran


Rezaee, R. (2008). Education behind the veil: the impact of the cultural revolution on women's higher education in Iran (Unpublished dissertation). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


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