Women, Work and Islamism

Ideology and Resistance in Iran

Elaheh Rostami-Povey writing as Maryam Poya


This work explores Islamism in practice and looks at the influence of state, economy and religion on women in Iran.

Drawing on original research into women's participation in the workforce, the author shows how the Islamization of state and society which followed the 1979 revolution involved an attempt by the Islamic state to seclude women within the home. Its power to transform gender relations, however, was constrained by many factors - the Iran-Iraq war, economic restructuring, and women's own responses to oppression.

Despite continual state attempts to strengthen patriarchal relationships throughout society and to maintain a rigid sexual division of labour, women's participation in the labour force in 1999 is greater than it was before the revolution, and gender consciousness is at a higher level than at the height of westernization in the 1960s and 70s. Religious and secular women in urban areas have allied to demand reforms and forced the Islamic state to return to the position of the pre-1979 reforms in relation to women and the family.

Author Bio

Elaheh Rostami-Povey is the author of Iran's Influence (Zed, 2010) and Afghan Women, Identity and Invasion (Zed, 2007) and is translated widely.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction 
  • 1. Continuity and Change: A Historical Approach 
  • 2. The Islamic Sexual Division of Labour 
  • 3. The Impact of the Iran-Iraq War 
  • 4. Reversal 
  • 5. Women's Responses to Patriarchy 
  • 6. Conclusion 
  • Appendix: Research in Iran


'This book offers a rare account of changing policies on women's employment in the Islamic Republic, examines the complex interplay between state ideology and economic realities and vividly illustrates the contradictory outcomes for women themselves.'
Deniz Kandiyoti, SOAS, University of London


Publication Date: 14 March 2011
208 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback 2nd Edition: 9781848139824
Library Edition: 9781856496810

Previous Editions: Paperback 1st Edition: 9781856496827

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