Women in Iran banned from studying over 70 degree courses
Universities in Iran have announced that women will be banned from studying certain degree courses and offered to men only.
Under the new policy, 36 universities will exclude women from 77 courses including English literature, English translation, nuclear physics, computer science, electrical engineering, business management, archaeology and hotel management.
The country’s Oil Industry University, which has several campuses across the country, announced it will no longer accept female students at all.
Female students have outperformed men in education in recent years, with more women passing the university entrance and outnumbering men three to two.
A trend that has caused senior clerics in Iran concern about how social changes brought by the rising educational standards among women are affecting the declining birth and marriage rates.
In resopnse to the country’s declining population, leaders recently announced a number of policy changes and a budget of 190 billion rials (about $15 billion) to help increase the birthrate.
Iran’s most celebrated human rights campaigner, Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi, has urged the United Nations to investigate the education reform.
She claims that the real agenda behind this decision is to reduce the proportion of female students from around 65 per cent to below 50% which will weaken the Iranian feminist movement in its campaign against the discriminatory Islamic laws.
In an open letter to the United Nations Ms Ebadi said the move “demonstrates that the Iranian authorities cannot tolerate women’s presence in the public arena.”
Ms Ebadi, a human rights lawyer living in exile in Britain, added that the Iran leaders are trying to get women “back into the house in the hope that they abandon their demands and leave the government alone to pursue its wrong policies”.
The ban, which comes into force from the beginning of the new academic year, is officially in response to high unemployment figures for women graduating from science-based degree programmes.
Kamran Daneshjoo, Iran’s minister of science and higher education said that some single- gender courses are now needed to create a “balance” between the sexes but 90 per cent of degrees still remain open to both sexes.