Concluding observation Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
E/C.12/IRN/CO/2 para 9
Full recommendation:
The Committee recommends that the State party take steps to lift all restrictions on access to
university education, including bans on female and male enrolment, limited quotas for women in
certain fields, and gender segregation in classrooms and facilities.
Assessment using Impact Iran human rights indicators1
With regards to access to education, Article 30 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran
stipulates that “The government must provide all citizen with free education up to secondary
school and must expand free higher education to the extent required by the country for attaining
self-sufficiency.” Article 20 states that “All citizens of the country, both men and women, equally
enjoy the protection of the law and enjoy all human, political, economic, social, and cultural rights,
in conformity with Islamic criteria”. 2
Despite these legal safeguards, women in the Islamic Republic of Iran face restrictions to access
higher education.
The Iranian government does not publish statistics regarding its efforts towards a reduction or
elimination of discrimination in higher education. There are reports that point to a pattern of lack
of gender equality in terms of access to education, especially for women belonging to ethnic and
religious minority groups.3 Enrollment statistics indicate that women have limited access to certain
academic specializations at university. In 2017, the gross enrollment ratio of women in all majors
in Iran was 62.86%, compared to 73.33% for males.4 In its 2019 National Report to the Universal
Periodic Review, the Government reported that “At present, 43.98% of the university students are
female”, although not specifying in what academic specializations women were the most present.
Available data suggest that the generalized women ban from engineering academic specializations
have contributed to the overrepresentation of women in humanities or social sciences which
reportedly offer lower employment prospects after graduation.5 In 2015-2016 the number of

1

ESCR.13.2.S.5
ESCR.13.2.P.12
ESCR.13.1.O.7; ESCR.13.2.O.11
2
Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, English translation, https://irandataportal.syr.edu/wp-content/uploads/constitutionenglish-1368.pdf
3
Minority Rights Group, https://minorityrights.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/MRG_CFR_Iran_EN_Sept191.pdf
4
UNESCO, http://uis.unesco.org/en/country/ir
5
Minority Rights Group, https://minorityrights.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/MRG_CFR_Iran_EN_Sept191.pdf

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