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Women’s affairs and the cultural policies of Pahlavi I

At the beginning of the rule of Reza Shah, changes in the wider arena of health care were inspired by the industrial and socio-economic development of foreign countries such as Italy and Germany, and especially Turkey.15 Reza Shah followed the reforms of Ataturk in the lifestyle and role of women.16 Comparing the status of women in Turkey with those of Iran, Reza Shah expressed his understanding of Turkish progress: “I could not assume that the Turks had made such great progress in the adoption of European civilization. However, I see that we are very underdeveloped especially in the education of women and girls; therefore, it is required to forcefully advance our people, especially our women.”17 Newspapers of this era published essays on women’s scientific achievements in other countries and paved the way for the education and participation of Iranian women in scientific arenas. Among these newspapers, ‘Alam-e Nesvan and Shafaq-e Sorkh were published to enlighten women and girls. Some of these essays were about the capabilities of Iranian women for medical education and teaching in female schools. The strong emphasis these newspapers placed on the shortage of female physicians and encouraging Iranian women to study medicine indicate that the society and the government welcomed the development of medicine among women as a remedy for the problems of society.18 An essay entitled “What Can the Iranian Woman Do?” expressed that

The Health Department of Iran, like that of other countries, tries to employ competent and educated nurses to supervise and take care of poor families, teach them principles of health and wellbeing, examine the health conditions of children in schools, and prevent any epidemics. Moreover, the Red Lion and Sun Society (Jam ‘iyat-e Shir-o Khorshid-e Sorkh) [equivalent to the Red Crescent] of Iran is responsible for employing proficient nurses to work as a standby workforce and in case these nurses get married, they can take care of their children better than any other.19

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