top of page


Population size and demographic: 86.7 million. 49.53% of the population is female and 50.47% is male.

Women’s Rights Crisis in Iran:

Since 1979, women have been required to wear hijabs in Iran, covering their hair and neck. This law is enforced by the morality police, or Guidance Patrol, established in 2005 (1). In 2014, 9000 women were detained during a 3-month period for not wearing hijab or not wearing it in accordance with standards (2). In 2022, the death of Mahsa Amini, who was detained by the morality police and died in their custody, sparked international outrage and resulted in street protests and demonstrations. Since then, other women and protesters have been detained, disappeared or have been killed, especially during the protests, where in the first 20 days, 200 deaths were reported (1). Iranian authorities have executed or sentenced to death multiple protesters and the fight continues for Iranian people.

Women at Work:

In 2020, the female labour force participation in Iran was 17.9%, drastically lower than the 75.3% rate for men (3). The unemployment rate stood at 19.18% for women in the labour force and 55.69% of working women were working part-time. Women made up 20.5% of all legislators, officials, and managers, and 36.7% of all professional and technical workers (3). Iranian women have a stronger presence in the public sector than in the private sector. In 2018, women made up 21.7% of all those employed in senior and middle management (4).

Women’s Participation in Parliament:

When it comes to political empowerment, Iran ranked 145 out of the 153 countries in the Global Gender Gap Report of 2020. Women gained the right to vote and stand for election in 1963 in Iran (3). Women hold 5.59% of all seats in parliament, meaning 16 out of the 284 members were women (5). Women made up 9.32% of all candidates, meaning 666 out of 7148. The first woman in parliament in Iran was elected in 1963 (5). Women held 6.5% of all ministerial positions (3). There is a specialized body for women’s rights in Iran, the Women’s Network of the Republic of Iran’s Parliament (5).

Violence against Women:

Iran does not provide many statistics on gender-based violence or domestic violence against women. In 2010, 17% of girls were married before they reached 18 years of age and 3% were married before 15. Between 2012 and 2013, more than 40,000 marriages of girls under 15 were registered in Iran, with an age gap of 10 years between the girl and the man for more than 8000 of those marriages (6). Every day, 1 to 3 girls under 15 are married in only one of the many Provinces in Iran (7). Another

Province (Baluchestan Province) had registered 2,405 marriages of girls between 10 and 14 years from March 2021 to the end of the year (7). It was estimated that 66% of Iranian women had experienced at least one violent behaviour during marriage. In one study, the rate of physical violence was 28.5% and psychological violence stood at 55.5% (8). Another study, with 396 married women as participants, showed that 28% had faced sexual violence before and 29.2% had faced psychological violence (8). The enforcement of dress codes for women has resulted in an alarming death toll recently, due to protests. This law has been widely and consistently protested throughout the years in Iran, starting with the 1979 protests, when the idea was first introduced and more recently in the 2022 Mahsa Amini protests (9).


When it comes to health and survival, Iran ranks 130 out of 153 countries in the global Gender Gap Report of 2020. The healthy life expectancy for women in Iran is 65.9 years. Maternal mortality stands at 16 deaths per 100,000 births and 99% of all births are attended by skilled personnel (1). The adolescent fertility rate is 41 per 1000 girls aged 15 to 19 years in 2020 (2). About 68.6% of women aged 15 to 49 years had their family planning needs met with modern methods in 2011 (10).


When it comes to women’s educational attainment, Iran ranks 118 out of 153 countries. The literacy rate is different for men and women, with women having a 80.8% rate and men a 90.4% rate. The rate for girls enrolled in primary education is 97.5%, which drops to 80.4% for secondary school and 64.3% for tertiary education. Most women in higher education obtain degrees in STEM related subjects (32.05%). (1)

Current Law and Policy:

A lack of recognition of domestic abuse. The Centre for Human Rights in Iran called for legislation to protect women against violence in 2018. (11) The NGO argued that Iranian women are subjected to serious and sometimes fatal domestic abuse at alarming rates without any effective means of protection, whilst government takes no effective action. There is a need to prioritise parliamentary ratification of the Bill for the Protection of Women Against Violence. The call noted that women with disabilities and other vulnerable groups face heightened risk of abuse. The objectives of the Bill are to ensure women’s security against violence. 

Existing laws: the Iranian Code of Criminal Procedure, under articles 42, 43 and 66, intend to prohibit violence in the form of kidnapping, gender-based harassment, abuse of pregnant women and crimes against rights and responsibilities within the family structure. But these do not protect women due to cultural and political culture. However, the prosecuting services fail to prosecute abusers and to provide services to victims.

‘The National Policy of Iran Toward Violence Against Women’ set out the following points in 2015: (12)

· 20 year economic, social and cultural development perspective – started 2005. Not an overreaching plan in the area of violence against women. Still prevalent, particularly in rural areas. 

· Lack of information pertaining to women and girls, their legal rights as stated in the Constitution and Civil Laws and in particular, in Iran’s long-term development plan, which lead to mental and physical vulnerability. 

· Ignorance of women concerning their rights due to the neglect of legislative, executive and judicial authorities and NGOs in educating women. 

· Need to iimprove policies of anti-violence towards women, inform women about their legal rights and consider additional laws for their active participation in various socio-economic and cultural areas. 

The current law sets out the following rights of women:

· Article 21 Iranian Constitution guarantees rights of women in all fields in adherence to the laws of Islam. 

· Civil Law of Iran, Article 642, Chapter 19 sets out crimes against family rights and responsibilities. For example, if a man does not pay maintenance to his wife, he will be punished by law. Article 645 establishes that if a man does not officially register his permanent marriage, he will be imprisoned for one year. Laws are heavily orientated around men taking positive action rather than actions they must not do. 

· First two development plans, published after 5 and 10 years respectively, did not contain any articles concerning violence against women. This leaves a gap in the analysis of the 20-year perspective.

· Article 56 establishes in statute activities to be conducted by the Centre for Women’s Participation. Duties include organising common research activities to prepare plans for facilitating and following up the legal affairs of women, female households etc. 

· A National Review Document provides strategic objectives for preventing violence against women that include the security of women and children. 

· The Ministry of Health are writing a national mechanism to protect women against violence, free consultation on legal or judicial issues pertaining to women, empowering women to support themselves financially and a 24-hour helpline to report or seek help for any violence against women. 

· Family intervention centres established to solve divorce disputes – mediate in family disputes. Mediation a central aspect rather than punishment or prosecution. 

Criticisms of the policies taken regarding violence against women

· Iranian women are lacking information about their rights – root cause is neglect of the government in educating women about their rights through mass media. 

· No articles that clearly support the rights of women or prevent violence against women in Iran’s constitution and civil laws. 

· Increase in the number of victims of violence indicates that the applied policies are not successful, and the problem has not yet been solved or reduced. 

The press has reported an increase in domestic violence in Iran against women as a result of lock down – women’s activist. Iran’s state welfare organisation sent a text message to mobile phone users to widen awareness of hotlines to report DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. Violence is linked to livelihood problems – coronavirus has caused serious economic damages/hardship in the country. Part of a global trend of surging violence against women and girls during the pandemic. (13)

Furthermore, it is reported that women are still not aware of national laws against domestic violence and believe it is limited to physical violence. Iran has been trying to develop a law for several years prohibiting violence against women. Finalised as the dignity and security of women against violence. Current laws do not specifically address the problem – no difference between the type of violence related to a female gender and other forms of violence. Law is punishment based and parts are ineffective. Many women may not have proper living and economic conditions to sue their husbands. Will face trouble if their husband goes to jail. Calls are for the culture and law to grow together. (14)

Frontline Services:

· Alliance of Iranian Women - - Points of Contact: Manda Zand Ervin (Founder/President) ; General:

· OutRight Action International - tps:// -

· OutRight Action International - -

· Iranian Society to Support Individuals with Gender Identity Disorder (ISIGID) -



bottom of page