Education International
Education International

Iran: education union defends gender equity in access to university

published 6 September 2012 updated 4 March 2022

EI’s affiliate, the Cooperative Council of Iranian Teachers Trade Associations, CCITTA, has condemned the new Iranian legislation denying female students access to higher education.

A new Iranian legislation prevents female students from participating in seventy-seven different programs in thirty-six Iranian universities. It jeopardizes the current number of female students, which currently make up 65 per cent of the university population.

Gender discrimination undermines women's right to education

This gender discrimination is barring the female youth of Iran from their due rights to attain an equal education to that of their male peers. The new legislation came under immediate fire; students, teachers, parents, and elected officials alike all tuned in to denounce the new law, which violates female human rights according to Iranian native Shirin Ebadi, a leading human rights lawyer advocate. Ebadi has requested the new policy to be investigated by the UN Human Rights Commission.

EI’s affiliate, the Cooperative Council of Iranian Teachers Trade Associations, CCITTA, has commented on this new policy as well as other ones that they believe also hinder gender equity in Iran: “Education is the undeniable right of every human being regardless of race, religion, gender and language.

Governmental limitations to girls' and women's education

The Ministry of Education and Science has established some new laws to restrict women in schools and universities. These limitations have a long and gloomy story in the heart of men and women in the Iranian society and it paves the way to spread violence in the mind of children. The Ministry of Education has published separate school books for girls and boys, even school subjects are different now. The male teachers are not allowed to teach at girl’s schools and vice versa. The Ministry of Science has put this unfair policy on agenda too. Girls will be deprived of studying their favorite courses at universities.

CCITTA: for an equal society in Iran

CCITTA has held two meetings this summer, in Esfahan and Sanandaj and it strongly condemned these policies: "Although there is a ban freedom of speech, we have published our ideas on our weblogs and in public declarations. Teacher ‘s unions believe in gender equality and will fight for an equal society in Iran.”

In support of the new policy, Iranian Education Minister, Kamran Daneshjoo, cites a need for creating more “balance” as the reasoning behind the law. Nevertheless, many Iranians believe that this is just one of many reforms being made in an attempt to undermine the successes and progress of women’s rights in Iran.

The new policy will exclude women from pursuing majors such as English language and literature, engineering and computer science. The Oil Industry University, one of Iran’s best, announced that it will begin to prohibit female students from enrolling altogether, citing female students’ inability to find employment as the reason.  Isfahan University utilized a similar argument when it announced that its prestigious mining and engineering program will now be reserved for males only.

EI General Secretary Fred Van Leeuwen has voiced his support for CCITTA and the Iranian female student population, underlining: “The Iranian Government should not deprive any student of their right to a quality education on the basis of gender; practices like these are a violation of basic human rights that should be inalienable to an individual, such as access to education.”

EI Resolution on Gender Equality

The Resolution on Gender Equality, adopted at the 6th EI World Congress held in Cape Town, South Africa, in July 2011, affirms that “gender equality is a human right, and one that underpins human endeavor for sustainable development, social justice, peace and security, and quality education for all.”

It reiterates that gender equality is equality between men and women, and empowerment of women in unions, education and society.

It also urges EI and its affiliates  to ensure inclusive gender-sensitive quality public education, with focus on the education of girls and women, from early childhood through to higher and further education; impediments such as child labour, stereotyping and gender based violence; the necessity for good educational programmes; and on the centrality of the role of the teacher.