With the recent happenings in Iran, which raise the underlying question of why we ended up here, one might ask what really the identity of Iranian women is. It is obvious that the government of Iran is trying to change the way women see themselves and who they identify with. This is actually a very good question.
Research shows that Iranian women had a higher place in society and were treated as equal to men in the ancient Persia. The King’s mother and Principal wife led an autonomous life.
“The Principal wives had their own court, could sign agreements with their own seal, and had unlimited access to the King. Women could choose their own husbands, and did so when they were not asked to marry for political purposes. Concubines were often non-Persian women and, accordingly, could not marry into royalty but were still respected as women of high rank. Xerxes I (r. 486-465 BCE) added a harem building at Persepolis close to his palace, suggesting the elevated status of the women.” (See Women In Ancient Persia)
During the Achaemenid Period, women could serve in the military. “Scholar Kaveh Farrokh notes that ‘tombs attesting to the existence of Iranian-speaking women warriors have [been found in Iran and] also been excavated in Eastern Europe’ (128).’’ (See Women In Ancient Persia) Wealthy businesswomen existed and had their own entourage and commanded their own workforce.
“Women labored alongside men in the workforce and were often supervisors and managers. There was no difference in pay based on gender; one’s salary was based solely on one’s level of skill and experience in the job. Pregnant women, however, received higher wages as did new mothers for the first month after the birth of their child.”(See Women In Ancient Persia)
So why are we still struggling to define the identity of Iranian women?