Meetings in Tehran

New stop in Tehran. After ten days of race in the labyrinthic streets of the city of 8 millions inhabitants, here are the testimonies of the University and social welfare and rehabilitation, the National Youth Organization, the Student’s association, the School of public health and some citizens : Negin, Farah and Hassan.

- Voir cet article en francais




University for Social Welfare and Rehabilitation (USWR)
- Meeting with Doctor Joghataey - chancellor of the university
Created in 1992, the University for Social Welfare and Rehabilitation establishes a new field of research and spreading of knowledge in the Iranian university. This sector of social sciences has seemed more and more urgent in Iran because of the progressive increase of NGO after the Islamic revolution of 1979, the emergence of new concepts in the approach of development after 1989 and the social changings which take place in the country and from which we can see negative demonstrations : psychological disbalance, young people drug consumption, unemployment, lack of future projections for Iranian young people - 50 % of the population that represents 20 millions of schooled, all levels merged levels ; on the contrary, a massive implication of girls and women at university : 60 % of students are women. Connected to the Ministry of Health and the ministry of Planning, USWR aims in particular to increase the understanding of Iranian social health, to form specialists and social workers, to help the definition of public policies. The USWR is divided in several departments : rehabilitation, social welfare, social security, social health, youth, woman, children, handicaps, kind, international relations... Professor Joghataey underlines the importance to build another relation between society and university (cf experience of the popular university impulsed by the former president Rafsandjani) and to promote the accessibility of knowledge for everybody.

To know more about it :
- The Web site of USWR

Complements :
- The University Reforms Observatory ( ORUS)
- Workshop on the University of the XXI-th century of the Alliance 21


University for Social Welfare and Rehabilitation (USWR)
- Meeting with Maryam Sharifian - responsible for the Social welfare department

"The Ministry of Social Welfare and Social Security was established one year ago (2004), but there had been contributors working on the questions of health and welfare issues for a long time. It was for a lack of a distinctive organization responsible for the policy making and the absence of an integrated structure that prompted the government to establish a separate ministry" proclaimed Maryam. We are an academic department comprised of 8 academic staff that specializes in the domains of sociology, psychiatry, psychology, and social medicine. This group works on proposals for helping the social welfare policies of the government. "As a supplement to this planning work, we carry out experiments and programs targeting different groups such as: women, children, people with disabilities and elderly people. These experiments allow us to adjust and to update our theories accordingly. We study various models of social welfare, for example European and Scandinavian systems. We are interested in exchanging our experiences with other universities and producers of knowledge. For example we collaborate with the University of Lille in France and Middlesex University in England, as well as aligning our research with some Iranian NGOs to clarify the essential needs of our society regarding their wellbeing and welfare".
Maryam reminds us that Iran’s society is undergoing changes in the structure of family life and this will have considerable impact on welfare policies in the near future.


To know more about this :
- The Web site of the USWR


University for Social Welfare and Rehabilitation (USWR)
- Meeting with Jaleh Shaditalab - manageress of the Gender Institute, member of a NGO proposing micro-credits to the women carrying lucrative activity projects.

The condition of the women progressed during the last 20 years and in particular these last 8 years under the influence of the former President of the Islamic republic Khatami declares Jaleh. " The rate of schooling increased step by step and now more than 70 % of the students are girls in the sector of the humanities and 62 % of all students are women. It implies a turnover of the family because young girls bring back in their homes the knowledge that modify the role of the father for example. It does not make without collisions but the force of the social asking facilitates the transition. Before the Islamic revolution of 1979, no family let leave their daughter in the university. Women can today live alone, it is a real revolution ! It is necessary to understand as well as the chador and the head scarf weared by the women, helped them to change : it is a protection which allows them to be in the public space in security. According to our scientific studies, half of the women wish again to wear the head scarf.
Obviously, expectations of women are not completely resolved. They are educated but it is not still sufficient. They have many difficulties to participate to the economy : 25 % of them can today participate. On the other hand, the legislative frame is late and discriminating. A feminine social movement is appearing. With 450 NGO working for the promotion of women in Iran, the two counselors in the presidential cabinet and the new generation of jurists and feminine journalists, we are entitled to hope ! ".

The Gender Institute works notably on a program for creation of new jobs and search for economic locations with the World Bank and the other agencies of the United Nations.

To know more about it :

- The Web site of the USWR


School of Public Health of the University of Tehran
- meeting with Alireza Mesdaghinia - professor of environmental health, president of the Association of environmental health, specialist of questions relative to water resources.

The water is a rare good in Iran. 250 mm a year with important variations, desert regions and poor hydrographic system. 90 % of the consumption is intended for the agriculture. The management is done essentially by the ministry of the Energy without real cooperation with the local actors. The challenge according to Alireza, is to cooperate with municipalities, regions and the services of the State. A difficult task because of a lack of culture of cooperation between the levels of governance and low capacity of the non-governmental organizations. " We begin to be interested in the environment. This sector is devolved at the moment to a secretariat placed under the authority of the Presidency of the Islamic republic which should have more capacity to act. We have a real challenge in the future because we have a large population in Iran : 70 million of inhabitants (80 millions forecasted in 2015 according to the PNUD) " declare Alireza. According to the health device, Iranian system is relatively successful. An important number of doctors (particularly in cities), an initial qualitative training, a device of preventive medicine in the rural zones, a network of specialized professionals, a paying social security which covers 70 % of care for the insurants but which remains however inaccessible partially for a part of the population, translation of a policy that is globally favorable to the lucrative sector.


Complements :
- The works about Humanity and biosphere of the Alliance 21


Students Organization
- meeting with Omid Maleki - director of the international relations office, former advisor of the president Khatami on youth questions.
Created in 1999 on the initiative of the former president Khatami, this NGO is affiliated to the Ministry of Education and is the unique national organization mobilizing the students of the primary and secondary education (young from 7 to 18 years old). It organizes students’ parliament suggestions of which can be agreed by the government and help in the behaviour of projects, participle in the defence of the rights of the child (monitoring, participation to certain affairs in justice), coordinating of programs for the promotion of the citizenship. " 17 million young people are schooled in the Iranian schools. 4 million about are members of clubs and association. We try hard to work on the citizenship of the young people, it is an important data for our political transition. It is necessary to give them knowledges on their rights and to complete by knowledges on the responsibility " explains Omid. The Student’s organization can collaborate directly with foreign actors (without necessarily taking the diplomatic ways) and has a partnership with the Cite Scientifique of Paris, with Malaysia, Lebanon, China, England notably, and should fit soon into the device Ecosoc animated by the United Nations.

NB : The original experience of Iran news agency (ISNA), a collaborative newspaper Iranian led by a network of 30 000 Iranian students implanted in Iran and in other countries. -> http://www.isna.ir (in farsi exclusively)


Youth National Organization
- Meeting with Rahim Ebadi and his close co-workers (Rahim Ebadi is a director of the organization and a councillor of the president of the Islamic Republic).

Structure, as the previous one, arose from the president Khatami who wished to give to the young people the possibility to have a dialogue with the other civilizations of the world and to bring them to participate in world events. One of the missions is to help the creation of NGO by the students entered in higher education (from 18 years old and more). " In front of the changes of the young Iranian society (50 % of the young people are less than 25 years old), we try to help them in sectors as employment, social welfare, access to higher education through various programs that we are leading. We created with them 4 years ago, students’ parliament of the higher education which plays a role of advice with the High council of the education " clarifies Rahim.


To know more about it :
- Youth National Organization’s Web site


Quick meeting with Hassan - translator and Farah - member of a feminist organization

Situation is still rather complicated for the women in Iran and the new President said regressive positions in his speech and during his presidential campaign. Women’s last demonstration was marked with demonstrators’ arrest and we have no news of one of them. Amnesty international launched an international appeal to indicate these facts. A bit further, we were able to see photos of tortured persons posted in the street and on the web. Under Khatami presidential mandat, demonstrations were more possible (cf in June, 2005 demonstration of 4000 women in front of the university of Tehran with the slogan " We are women, we are citizens of this world but we don’t have any rights !" ) ". We estimate that the Iranian constitution is not favorable to the rights of the woman, declares Farah. The last presidential elections shows a lot of things about our democratic climate and the way of seeing the future of the Iranian : a lot of people deliberately voted for the extremist party to incite international intervention in Iran. That’s true ! It was something like a suicide vote ! It is not maybe very surprising in a country which, 25 years ago, knew the impasses of a revolution, a long war with Iraq and which, today, dissolves individual initiatives and collective cohesion. And furthermore we have obstacles to open our society to the world : suspension of TV satellite, impermeability in the foreign cultural products, censorship of Internet sites ".

About twenty feminist groups are today active in Iran according to Farah.


To know more about it :
- Iran feminist tribune on the web (farsi and english)


Meeting with Negin Kianfar - video director

Negin works frequently as a voice dubber for TV series, film and animations. She is also documentary maker, recently trained in Netherlands, and would wish to realize a documentary about the women, the beauty surgery and the islamic fashion in Iran. She clarifies that the Iranian women, commited to wear their head scarf in the public space according to the Islamic law, have more and more appeal to the facial surgery to highlight their femininity. Negin is studying a working opportunity with the BBC in Netherlands and would like to highlight the positive initiatives for developing the Iranian society.



The other initiatives that we had no time to investigate :

- Iranian social forum on the web (english - french - farsi)







Tehran - Iran, the 14th of August, 2005.






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