top of page
  • Samaneh Nademi

Shine Like a Diamond: A Glance at a Woman’s Life in Iran

Mahtab Kermati, Iranian actress, Jury President at Imangineinda 2020 (Photo from Imagineindia Festival)

Imagine yourself as a 7-year-old girl attending an all girls school forced to wear a uniform which completely covers your hair and entire body.

Imagine you are an athletic woman who is expected to compete in a volleyball or soccer competition while wearing a full hair and body-covered uniform as part of a mandatory requirement.

Consider yourself a fan of your favorite sports team, but your attendance at the stadium to watch and support them is prohibited.

Imagine you are a woman growing up with a passion to pursue a high level position in politics, but you are told that you cannot be considered because you are a woman.

Imagine, as a woman over 18, you are prohibited from going abroad without the notarized consent of either your father (if you are single) or your husband.

Can you imagine the possibility of your government permitting your husband to legally be married to a second wife, and not permitting you to divorce your husband for this reason?

Despite the fact that the new generation of young Iranian men opposes this unfair and anti-woman law, the shadow of this unjust regulation spreads insecurity amongst women in the country and makes them feel uncomfortable to ever want to get married. Sadly, the worst case scenario occurs in child custody, where the legislators have granted the right to men, and women are permitted to have custody only until their children become 7 years old.

These seemingly absurd and illogical circumstances are only a small part of the tyranny that women in Iran have endured for the past 45 years. The reason behind these misogynistic laws goes beyond the scope of this article. However, the primary reason is that the authorities believe according to Islamic religion, in order to maintain a healthy society and to prevent moral deviations, women need to cover their bodies and be more restricted, and under the control of men.

In spite of all these sad and hard-to-swallow facts and limitations, the most interesting aspect of this real story is that Iranian women are recognized as educated and successful citizens in their country as well as the world. Although the percentage of women in the labor force in Iran remains below 20 percent, female students have increasingly outnumbered males in higher education, accounting for approximately 60 percent of university students. And, as of 2020 women's literacy rates reached 85.5 and men's literacy rates reached 80.8 percent. (IranWire; The Iran Primer.)

One important point worth mentioning is that the women of Iran have realized in their hearts that no one is coming to grant them their rights, so they must build opportunities from obstacles and not allow inappropriate and restrictive legal conditions to prevent their improvement and development. Over time, they have become aware of the importance of higher academic education to regain their lost rights. They have become entrepreneurs, doctors, surgeons, astronauts, dentists, physicians, athletes, painters, actresses, teachers, engineers, biologists, lawyers, psychologists, writers, fashion designers, and many other professions.

Listed below are just a few examples of successful Iranian women recognized internationally for their brilliance, intellect, and strength. To name a few:

  • Maryam Mirzakhani - 1st and only woman to win a Fields Medal, the most prestigious award in mathematics

  • Anoushe Ansari - 1st female space tourist

  • Shirin Ebadi - Nobel Peace Prize winner

  • Fatemeh Moghimi - winner of the 1st Asia-Pacific Women Entrepreneur Award

  • Shirin Neshat - winner of the Silver Lion for Best Director at the Venice Film Festival

  • Simin Behbahani - twice nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature

  • Fereshteh Karimi - winner of 1st AFC Women’s Futsal Championship, and one of top 10 nominees by AFC of best woman player in the world.

  • Kimia Alizadeh - bronze medalist in Taekwondo at the Olympic Games Rio 2016

  • Amir Ebrahimi - winner of Cannes Best Actress prize

  • Zahra Nemati - winner of Olympic and Paralympic gold medals

TIME Magazine named The Women of Iran as the "2022 Heroes of the Year" for their bravery, especially in the revolution that began last year with the slogan "women, life, and freedom."

Iranian women grow up with a mindset of creating their own beautiful world, creating a desirable and pleasant environment that is appealing to both men and women, nurturing a wiser, more informed, and educated generation, and living a normal life believing that women are life and must have freedom.

The story of Iranian women beautifully demonstrates that a woman's willpower is beyond human comprehension. There are no limits to what it can accomplish. Her beliefs and mindset turn the impossible into the possible, enabling them to move mountains, neutralize harsh laws, and impact change. They are the true definition of diamonds, formed under extreme pressure, and nobody can dull their shine.

About the Author: Samaneh Nademi was born in Iran, and moved to the U.S. in 2022 to pursue her master's degree. She began her MBA program in Seattle, Washington, and transferred to Lincoln University in Spring 2023. Nademi has always been concerned about injustice and tyranny against women, and fascinated by the life stories of strong women. She has learned so much from the stories of these women overcoming discrimination, achieving success, and shining brightly.

bottom of page