Based on an invitation from the editors, I have contributed a chapter to a recently published book " Women, Power and Politics In 21st Century Iran. link The book is an account of Iranian women who are activists , academicians or politicians about their experiences and their views on Iranian society. Contrary to the often biased and misleading stereotypes about Iranian and Muslim women, this volume attempts to depict a realistic picture of their successes and challenges.
In the introduction Elahe Rostami notes that: As is discussed by Jamileh Kadivar, Elahe Koolaee and Massoumeh Ebtekar, in this book, through much of the history of Islamic Iran, the Islamic concept of Ijtihad has allowed the constant reinterpretation of socio-economic and socio-political matters which can take both a conservative and a democratic form. However Taliban-ism and Saudi style conservatism have never existed in Iran. The Islamic Republic of Iran from its inception has been engaged in a battle between conservative Islam and reformist Islam....... The authors in this book offer a particular analysis of Iranian women's struggle for change. ..They criticize the the conservative and patriarchal traditions in Islam which have taken away women's rights and continue to subject women to unequal treatment. At the same time they challenge the perception of Muslim women in the West as passive victims of men and religion. As is discussed by Mehri Honarbin Holliday our aim is not to wholly negate the history of Western thought but to problematise its absolutist convictions in promoting the centrality and universality of Western traditions. Therefore we argue that simplistic views of the place of women in Islam are part of narratives of inferiority and otherness and that to advance this discourse the West has conveniently ignored the achievements of women in Islamic societies.
I believe this effort which was undertaken by a group of academics concerned about the misleading stereotypes of Iranian women after the Revolution, has been an important step in providing an objective analysis and contributing to the debate about the status of women in Islam and the role of women in social and political processes in Iran.
I hope you would take the time to read this book which is one of the few insider looks at Iran.