Review: Women, Power and Politics in 21st Century Iran

Published: April 2012
Extent: 218 pages
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: Ashgate

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Edited by Tara Povey, University of Sydney, Australia and Elaheh Rostami-Povey, University of London, UK
This book examines the women’s movement in Iran and its role in contesting gender relations since the 1979 revolution. Looking at examples from politics, law, employment, environment, media and religion and the struggle for democracy, this book demonstrates how material conditions have important social and political consequences for the lives of women in Iran and exposes the need to challenge the dominant theoretical perspectives on gender and Islam. 

A truly fascinating insider’s look at the experiences of Iranian women as academics, political and civil society activists, this book counters the often inaccurate and misleading stereotyping of Iranian women to present a vibrant and diverse picture of these women’s lives. A welcome and unique addition to the vibrant and growing literature on women, Islam, development, democracy and feminisms. 

Contents: Glossary; Introduction, Elaheh Rostami-Povey; The women’s movement in its historical context, Elaheh Rostami-Povey; The boom in women’s education, Khadijeh Aryan; Autonomous minds and bodies in theory and practice: women constructing cultural identities and becoming visible through art, Mehri Honarbin-Holliday; Women and employment, Zahra Nejadbahram; Women, gender roles, media and journalism, Lily Farhadpour; Women working as judges and making judicial decisions, Jamileh Kadivar; Women and executive power, Jamileh Kadivar; Women in the Parliament, Elaheh Koolaee; Women and the environment: a politico-environmental experience, Massoumeh Ebtekar; The Iranian women’s movement in its regional and international context, Tara Povey; Conclusion: women’s movements and democracy movements in Iran, Tara Povey; Index.

About the Editor: Tara Povey is at the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Sydney, Australia and Elaheh Rostami-Povey is at the London Middle East Institute, Centre for Iranian Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK

Reviews: ‘An original and necessary contribution, this volume taps into Iranian feminist voices rarely heard outside Iran, illuminates topics that have until now only been discussed fleetingly, and provides an urgent intervention into the debates about how women organise, mobilise and act in Iran. The volume’s careful attention to various spheres of women’s activity – from governance to journalism, employment, and the arts – is fascinating, provocative, and immensely useful.’ 
Laleh Khalili, School of Oriental and African Studies, UK 

‘This is a powerful analysis of women’s movement in Iran by some of the best known post-revolutionary activists who have been instrumental in propelling the women’s movement forward in Iran in the past three decades. Their lived experiences add an illuminating dimension to their rigorous political and historic overview. This is a book that is well worth reading by all scholars and others who are interested in the subject.’ 
Baroness Afshar, University of York, UK 

‘…The chapters are a serious insider’s look by Iranian women researchers, and so embody the important argument that only Muslim women within their own contexts can “save” themselves by themselves.’ 
Omaima Abou-Bakr, Cairo University, Egypt 

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