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Women’s rights activist Azam Alaee Taleghani (also Azam Taleghani, Taleqani) is an Iranian women’s rights activist who has played an important role in women’s rights and democracy issues in Iran since the 1960s. She is the daughter of Ayatollah Said Mahmoud Taleghani, who fought against the Pahlavi Shah Mohammad Reza in the 1970s and died after the 1979 revolution. Alaee Taleghani was a Member of the Majles, the Iranian legislature, from 1979 to 1981. She is the founding member of Najm Complex Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) which consists of three institutions, The Association of Islamic Women of Iran; Women’s Society of the Islamic Revolution and Payame Hajar (Farsi: Hajar’s Message) women’s journal. She is the author of many articles and books.


Alaee Taleghani was born in 1944 (some sources say 1943) in Tehran, Iran. She has a diploma in Humanities, a diploma in English language, and a BA in Persian Literature from Tehran University. She specializes in educational issues and has worked as a teacher, a head teacher, and head of a school for 26 years. From 1973 to 1975 she was in jail under the Shah’s regime for her anti-regime activities. Since the 1979 revolution she has been active on women’s issues and democracy issues.

For Alaee Taleghani, women played an important role in the 1978–1979 revolutionary period which led to the fall of the pro-West regime of the Shah in 1979: “Women carried their children on their shoulders and attended meetings, conferences, and marches. Many were killed during the street demonstrations against the Shah’s regime. We worked in hospitals day and night and looked after the injured. Women left their homes and their husbands to work in hospitals and in the mosques. They only went home a few hours a day to sort out things for their children. Those who had young children organized collective child-care facilities in the neighborhood, allowing time for everyone to do their share of voluntary work. Women attacked police stations and barracks, confiscated arms and distributed them amongst the revolutionaries” (Poya 1999, p. 124).


Alaee Taleghani is strongly influenced by her father’s idea of a link between Islam and modern ideas. She, alongside other female political activists in the 1990s such as Shahla Habibi (daughter of Ayatollah Habibi), and Fatemeh and Faeze Hashemi (daughters of Ayatollah Rafsanjani), tried to reinterpret Islamic laws and regulations in favor of women’s participation in economics and politics. Alaee Taleghani believed that women’s political activities in the revolutionary period and their paid and unpaid work in the 1980s gave them a sense of collective consciousness against their limited role in the home. She explained how women’s experiences of voluntary work during the Iran-Iraq war (1980–1988) politicized women: “During the war we joined the Sisters Mobilization Organization. We worked in the mosques, prepared food, blankets and medicines for the men at the war front. In the war-zone areas women were involved in the distribution of arms amongst the population and the soldiers. In these areas women set up mobile hospitals and looked after the injured. As the war continued, women had to return to their homes, but they still continued their voluntary work and had to organize their time in a way to allow them to do their housework and their voluntary work in order to keep make family members happy”.

During this period, Alaee Taleghani’s organization, the Women’s Society of Islamic Revolution, voluntarily taught women sewing, knitting, and electronics work. This allowed them to be employed in textile and electronics industries. The organization also ran classes in mathematics and Farsi for poorer students who needed help with their studies.


Name: Azam Alaee Taleghani

Birth: 1944 (some sources say 1943), Tehran, Iran

Family: Husband, Morteza Eghtesad; one daughter, Akram Eghtesad; three sons, Abbas Eghtesad, Kazem Eghtesad, and Mohammad Sadegh Eghtesad

Education: Diploma and BA, Tehran University


  • 1979: Founded Najm Complex Non-Governmental Organization (NGO): The Association of Islamic Women of Iran; Women’s Society of the Islamic Revolution and Payame Hajar Women’s Journal
  • 1979–81: Member of the Majles

Women’s rights activists put women’s issues at the center of political debate in Iran. In the 1997 presidential election, women used this period to raise their voices for gender equality. Despite the fact that, according to religious law and Article 115 of the Constitution, women could not become president, nine women stood. This action was a form of protest, forcing the state to admit to its own limitations. Alaee Taleghani was one of these candidates. She announced that her intention was first "to sort out the interpretation of the term “rejal” (Farsi: statesman), which is ambiguously defined in the Constitution"; second, she said, “It was my religious duty to stand for the presidential election, otherwise the rights of half of the population of this country would have been wasted and I would have been responsible and accountable to God for such an injustice.” Third, she explained, “I have discussed with a number of clergymen the issue of whether a woman could be the President of the Islamic Republic or not in order to pave the way for the future, even if this may cause problems for me at present” ( Zanan No. 34, 1997; Poya 1999, p. 144-45).

She visited a number of the ulama (Islamic religious scholars), and challenged their objection to women standing for presidency. She explained, “Five out of six ulama believed that women cannot be president. I argued with them, my aim was to prove to them that they have a particular reading of Islamic laws on women which can be changed.” Despite her and other women activists’ efforts, all female candidates were rejected by the conservative clergy. In this election, the majority of women voted for President MOHAMED KHATAMI who was sympathetic to their views and he won a landslide victory against the conservatives (Rostami-Povey 2001, p. 49).

Since 1997, Alaee Taleghani pioneered the tradition of women challenging the presidential elections. Prior to the 2001 presidential election eighty women and prior to the 2005 presidential election eighty-nine female activists declared themselves as candidates. In the 2005 presidential election, women’s rights activists staged a number of sit-ins and demonstrations. They argued that they would continue their struggle until the male reading of the Islamic laws, including rejecting women to be president, was changed. In one of these demonstrations, Alaee Taleghani turned to the police who were surrounding women and said to them, “Thank you brothers for allowing us to raise our voices. We will be here forever to continue our struggle and you will have to cooperate with us” (Rostami-Povey 2005).

Alaee Taleghani, as the founding member of Najm NGO, has attended international conferences. Under her supervision and directorship Payame Hajar is published in Farsi and in English to promote women’s rights issues. In 1997 she attended the United Nations (UN) Division for the Advancement of Women and participated in the debate about the Muslim women’s equal right with men to inheritance. In her publications she has been supporting Palestinian women and has been sending regular declarations in support of them. She has also been writing and discussing issues in relation to refugee and migrant women and children, disabled women, and the rights of female religious minorities and secular women ( Payame Hajar 1997, 17-21).


Faeze Hashemi, the daughter of Ayatollah Rafsanjani (the President of Iran between 1989–1997), was a women’s rights activist during the 1990s alongside Azam Alaee Taleghani. In the 1990s, women’s issues became central within Iranian politics when magazines, newspapers, television and radio raised brought the topic to the forefront. The powerful presence of religious Iranian women, wearing black chador (Farsi: Iranian full Islamic cover) as delegates at the International Women’s Conference in Beijing in 1995 brought to the fore gender issues in Iran. In the parliamentary election of 1996 Hashemi as a candidate for Tehran was extremely popular among young women of both the religious and the secular middle class for suggesting that if elected she would create women-only sport ground. She came second in this election. In 1998 she published the daily Rouznameh Zan (Farsi: Woman’s newspaper). This was an important publication relating women’s issues to a growing democracy movement. This newspaper, with the circulation of twenty thousand, waged a campaign to encourage women to stand for elections. In April 1999 this newspaper was closed down for challenging unequal gender relations.

In her analysis of various verses of the Qur’an she argues that “men were not born weak, they were made weak; women were not born oppressed, they were made oppressed. Therefore, women’s and men’s natural rights are taken away from them. One is therefore obliged to fight for women’s and men’s rights.” It is on this basis is that she sees herself on the side of the globally oppressed who constitute the majority of the world’s population. She criticizes some Muslim communities in the Muslim majority and Muslim minority societies who do not allow women to enter into the mosques. She argues that “women’s presence in the mosques is their Islamic right.” In her view, in the eyes of the God, women and men are equal; in Islam, human beings are equal and one is not superior to the other. In early history of Islam, women played important political roles ( Payame Hajar 1995, p. 5). Therefore, according to Islamic culture, women and men can have equal access to work and employment. In her book Women’s Issues; Second Notebook : (1991) she discusses the importance of the work of women in agriculture and in industry and women’s contribution to the household economy and the national economy as well as women’s grievances and demands.


Azam Alaee Taleghani certainly will go down in history as an important Iranian women’s rights activist.

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about 7 years ago

To: Azam Alaee Taleghani

In 1960, in Tehran I had a good friend and good neighbor, his name was Mahmud Taleghani, his father had two wives one in Shimran, can you help, thank you Reza