She completed her doctoral work in Political Science at Azad University after earning a Master's degree in Art from University of Tehran.
Rahnavard was a close acquaintance of dissident intellectual Ali Shariati, and when he was arrested in 1976, she fled to the US. But she returned to Iran shortly before the 1979 revolution, becoming instrumental in developing many of the new Islamic republic's political, cultural and economic programmes.
Al-zahra University in Tehran
Zahra Rahnavard was the dean of Al-zahra University in Tehran, from 1998 to 2006. She is the first Iranian woman appointed as head of a university since the 1979 Iranian Revolution. She was nominated to this post by former Minister of Science, Research and Technology, Mostafa Moin. After the election of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005 and the purging of reformist officials from the government, Rahnavard was removed from her position in 2006.
Journalism, writing and art
Author of 15 books, Rahnavard is also known as a writer, journalist and artist in Iran. One of her sculptures, depicting motherly love, named "Narcissus of Lovers" has been on public display in the center of Mother Square in Tehran since 1994.
Influence on gender equality policies
Rahnavard's political achievements include getting legal recognition of the rights of women to receive wages in return for housework. Her views on the role of women has been described by political commentators as "feminist", but she is nevertheless "highly critical of the idea of equality in the West":
"She says it doesn't respect women's specific attention to children and domesticity," Baroness Haleh Afshar, Professor of Politics at York University (Women's Hour, BBC)
Presidential Elections 2009
During campaigning for Iran's presidential election, Zahra Rahnavard broke with Iranian political tradition by appearing alongside her husband, Mir Hossein Mousavi. She has been an active campaigner, making speeches, attending rallies alone and publicly criticising the incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his treatment of women. Mr Mousavi himself pledged to reform laws and promote gender equality: "We should reform laws that are unfair to women." Rahanavard, who campaigned with her husband, said to a rally in Tehran:
"We should reform laws that treat women unequally. We should empower women financially, women should be able to choose their professions according to their merits, and Iranian women should be able to reach the highest level of decision making bodies."
- The Guardian
- BBC News: Middle East
- Zahra Rahnavard Twitter
- BBC News: Iran candidate Mousavi backs women's rights
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