Women banned from Iranian universities
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Universities across Iran have announced that almost 80 subjects in both the liberal arts and sciences will be off limits to incoming female scholars. 77 subjects in an estimated 36 Universities will be banned for future students. There are some out there who consider feminism "outdated" and that, since women's rights progressed so much during the 20th Century, anyone who considers themselves a feminist must have ulterior and extreme motives and views. But the ban clearly demonstrates that the journey towards global gender equality is an uphill battle, and far from being unnecessary, we need feminists and others to accept that change is crucial, in order to truly call ourselves a modern world. The Oil Industry University, which has several campuses across the country, says it will no longer accept female students at all, citing a lack of employer demand. Isfahan University provided a similar rationale for excluding women from its mining engineering degree, claiming 98% of female graduates ended up jobless. Gholamrez Rashed, head of the University of Petroleum Technology, told Mehr news agency on Tuesday that his school would not be needing the contributions of any female students. Bloomberg reports that difficult working conditions in the country's oil industry were Rashed's main reason for not admitting women. Meanwhile Mohammad Hossein Ramesht, the chancellor of the University of Isfahan, said high unemployment rates among women in science justified the ban. The backlash against the ban is evident. One of the more vocal defenders of women's rights, Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi, spoke of her disgust at the prohibition in an open letter to The United Nations dated August 17th, stating: "The gender segregation policy... suggest the imposition of a patriarchal culture that aims to strengthen the role of women at home and within the family unit in order to undermine their important function in society." In another letter, to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and Navi Pillay, the high commissioner for human rights, Mrs Ebadi, who is a human rights lawyer exiled in the UK, said the real agenda was to reduce the proportion of female students to below 50% – from around 65% at present – thereby weakening the Iranian feminist movement in its campaign against discriminatory Islamic laws. "The aim is that women will give up their opposition and demands for their own rights," said Ebadi.
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