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It may surprise many to learn that the majority of science graduates in Iran are women. But that may be about to change. 

In a joint statement on behalf of Center for Inquiry and IHEU, women’s rights activist Raheel Raza slammed Iranian universities for new plans to exclude women from 77 university courses. Here is Raheel’s statement in full:

UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
Center for Inquiry and IHEU joint statement 
Speaker: Raheel Raza, Tuesday 18 September 2012
Agenda Item 4:  Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention

Restrictions on women’s education in Iran

Madam President.

We wish to draw attention to the recent bar on the enrolment of female students from 77 university courses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.  This exclusion of women from higher education breaches Iran’s obligations under the ICESCR and is a setback to advancement towards gender equality. Imposing limits on educational opportunities for women is a serious assault on their human rights [ICESCR Art 13.2 c] and will tend to perpetuate the subordinate position of women in Iranian society.

These new measures are a further illustration of the Iranian government’s deeply conservative agenda that leads to the grossly excessive use of the death penalty, treats women as second-class citizens, leads women and girls into earlier marriages and prevents them from developing their full potential as human beings.  

Currently some 68% of Iran’s science graduates are female [Unesco, 2009], and restricting women’s access to higher education will lead to a deterioration in the quality of its institutions of higher education (where women currently form 65% of the student body), and to a shortage of skilled professionals, hampering economic growth. Such restrictions are therefore detrimental to the nation as a whole.

CFI and IHEU endorse Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi’s formal complaint to the UN Secretary General and urge the government of Iran to recognise their obligations to the rights of women under the ICCPR.

Thank you Madame President

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