Women in Iran have always played a fundamental, important and constructive role throughout history.
In Ancient Persia
At Elam kings era, there was matriarchy in Iran. And women sometimes worshiped in the size of the gods.
During the Achaemenid period, women in Iran had Right of inheritance and ownership rights. And they could work in the army. One of the most famous women in Iran was Lady Artemis. She was naval in the Kheshayar (king of Iran) attack to Greece. Herodotus says once Kheshayar Shah said: I wish Iranian men had the courage of Artemis.
In Persepolis, there are many pictures on stones that show women along with men. And also there are a lot of writes on mud tablets, that now exist in the United States. These tablets show women received as a headman, and in many cases received a higher salary than men. On one of the tablets, wrote that a female worker received “a certain amount of payment for pregnancy”.
As well as women in Iran have an additional annual salary to travel, especially to India and Kashmir. In general, women in Iran could have a higher income and or equal of men in ancient times. So, even according to today’s standards, they had so ideal conditions.
In the Sassanid period
During the Sassanid period, women in Iran had much higher rights than women in Rome. For example, if a girl was raped, the governor would give her 5,000 dinars of gold. Women also have a divorce right. There is also one of the most amazing documents of a marriage contract, founded in Balkh. In this document, a woman had two husbands at her request.
A female King
Pourandokht (Boran) was a lady of Sassanid kingdom that reigned over more than 10 Asian today’s countries. The history of feminism in the world does not last more than 150 years. But Pourandokht, the Iranian king of the Sassanid period, spoke the first Iranian “feminist” speech at 1400 years ago: What a woman is a king, whether a man should keep his land and deal with justice and equity.
Pourandokht, in a letter to his army, put forward his feminist sentence. And placed herself on the list of the first followers of the equality of men and women. In the battle with the Romans, the presence of a large number of female soldiers has been reported in the Iranian army.
In the Qajar period
Women in Iran were at a very lower level than men, in the Qajar period (1785-1925). The possibility of studying for women was very limited. In public opinion, women’s literacy was viewed as opposed to Islam and danger to society. Some clerics always insisted on this belief. Another belief was that women could not be literate, and their brains did not have the power to accept knowledge. Women’s literacy considered a shame, and many literate women hid it. For example, some of Naser al-Din Shah’s wives were able to read and write, but the Shah (king) did not know.
During this period, women spent most of their time at home and on house affairs. There was gender separation in homes and streets that lasted until the Pahlavi era, especially among the lower classes of society. At home, female guests were welcomed by women and male guests by men. Out of the house, women wore tents, scarves, and baggy trousers and covered their faces. In crowded streets at crowded clocks, women should walk across a sidewalk and men from another one. Women who wanted to go to the other side of the street should be allowed by the police and move quickly under his supervision. Also, women and men were not allowed to sit together in a carriage, even if they were mother and son or siblings.
In the Pahlavi period
Reza Shah Pahlavi, after meeting with Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in Turkey, In 1933 began to take steps to improve the position of women. He ordered the educational institutions and especially the University of Tehran to register with the girls. In 1934, Reza Shah ordered to discover the veil and banned the tent.
During the reign of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, for the first time, women in Iran have the right to vote and also become election nomination. The first women’s lawyers in the Iranian National Assembly voted in the 1963 general elections and went to parliament. Iranian women’s organization was formed, and in the late Pahlavi period, the Family Protection Act was approved. Just before the 1979 revolution, 1,500 women were at senior government positions in the country, 22 women in the National Assembly, 5 mayors, and 33% of all Iranian higher education jobs were for women.