Journal of history of Iran)

Document Type : review paper


From a socially enlightened point of view, the educational programs offered to the masses should not be guided by the traditional gender bias and principle of inequality. The society which follows a socially progressive strategy must draw dividends from the knowledge and abilities of all members whether male or female. The people themselves must choose their educational paths based on their individual preferences. When contemplating the educational texts of medieval Iran and Safavid Persia, it becomes clear that the masters of tutelage had two distinct objectives for the instruction of men and women. The present study, by applying the historical method and by making extensive use of primary and secondary sources, strives to explore the diverse dimensions of this canonical problem. This enquiry demonstrates that the absence of women from the society and their lack of effective engagement in the socioeconomic sphere, along with their powerlessness in making strategic decisions on matters pertaining to the public domain were the direct consequences of the isolationist methods utilized in the education of women. This was partially accomplished by barring women from attending schools, and subsequently imposing upon them an isolated and passive existence in the society. This societal construct was further perpetuated by educational models that encouraged, nay demanded men to adopt and protect this maladaptive tradition. Despite all systemic obstacles and in the face of cruel odds, when the conditions permitted, the genius of many Safavid women flourished and contested the confines of their limited social spheres. Nevertheless, these accomplishments were often restricted to the woman’s personal domain and did not thrive in the grand socio-cultural realm.