Higher education, gender and social change in Iran (1979-2015)

Husseini, Nahid (2017) Higher education, gender and social change in Iran (1979-2015). (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


The purpose of this study is to identify key factors that have led women to enter higher education on a large scale in Iran. My research will analyse the social, political, economic and cultural contexts which have provided an opportunity for women to take up more than 65% of places in Iranian universities, in a society which is unequal in many other respects. The rationale for a focus on women's share of higher education on such a scale is that education is considered to be a key social development indicator for measuring women's status and condition in any country. Tertiary education is seen by many commentators as a provider of greater opportunities for women's economic and social development. Education is one of the most significant means of empowering women with the knowledge and skills they need in order to play a greater role in the process of economic and social development. This research will also cover the historical background of women's issues since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. I will then explore the rise of female participation in social movements, which have been followed by government repression. The role and solidarity of women with different political views in reformist movements and specifically the role of women in the Green Movement of 2009 will be discussed. This study will also examine the role of the Iranian diaspora in general, and specifically the role of women in the diaspora, in social and cultural change. The impact of social media im mobilising people not only to support their demands inside Iran but also to serve as a strong tool for communication with the outside world will be important issues to discuss. New Social Movement theory will be the main theoretical framework discussed in this research. Qualitative multi-methods were used to gather data based on existing resources in English and Farsi, and interviews were conducted in Iran and abroad with sixteen women activists. In addition, a Facebook page was designed to collect more information from other sources. A brief comparison of the situation of women in education and employment in Iran and that of women in the region more widely has also been conducted. This research sims to address gaps in the existing research and provide suggestions and recommendations for future research on the women's movement in Iran. Finally the research aims to discuss how educated Iranian women's journeys can make an impact on social, political and cultural development in contemporary Iran.

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