Afghan Refugee Women in Iran

Self-Awareness and Change in Traditional Gender Roles


  • Ziba Jalali Naini



This article looks at how Afghan migrant women to Iran gained greater self-awareness and experienced many changes in their traditional gender roles. This qualitative study was conducted through in-depth interviews with Afghan working women in Tehran. The women had a median age of 39 (between 23 to 55) and had been living in Iran anywhere between one to twenty-five years. Most of the responders migrated to Iran after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in 1995. A few were more recent migrants who arrived after the Taliban took over in August 2021. The article addresses the ways in which Afghan women have attained self-awareness and the multiplicity of factors which have facilitated or impeded this process. We will see that these women have gone far beyond the immediate restrictions and impediments that were imposed by their traditional families, as well as the strict gender division of labour in their community. 


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Author Biography

Ziba Jalali Naini

Ziba Jalali Naini started work as a publisher, editor, and translator of books in 1994 in Tehran, Iran. She is the founder and owner of Shirazeh Publishing House in Tehran, with more than four hundred books published on Human Sciences. In 2004 she won the First Prize Award from the Women's Cultural Association in Tehran for her many accomplishments. Since 2000, she has been a member of IRWI, a national NGO of independent female researchers. She has conducted research and contributed to a report entitled “An Analysis of the Girl Child and Youth Conditions in Iran” for the Beijing +10 Conference. Jalali Naini is the author of numerous articles on social, cultural, and gender issues in different revues and magazines in Persian, English, French, and Italian.

Image 6: by Shamsia Hassani