Saturday, December 26, 2009
Farrokhroo Parsa was born on 22 March 1922 in Qom to Farrokhdin and Fakhr’e Afagh Parsa. Her mother, Fakhr’e Afagh, was the editor of the women's magazine Jahan’e Zan and a vocal proponent for gender equality and for educational opportunities for women. Her views on this subject met with opposition of the conservative sections of the society of her time, leading to the expulsion of the family by the government of Ahmad Qavam, from Tehran to Qom and Farrakhroo’s subsequent birth.
She was sent to school and encouraged by her parents to become an educated woman. She proved to be a brilliant student at Homa primary school. As the situation in the country had changed under Reza Shah, Parsa had the chance to enjoy equal rights, at least as far as education was concerned. With her parents’ eagerness to educate their children she continued her studies even after she was married and bore children. After obtaining a college degree in natural sciences, she became a biology teacher in Jeanne d'Arc high school in Tehran where Farah Diba was one of her students. Her dedication to her job as well as women's rights promoted her to the school’s principle position. She also used after school hours to visit and teach women in prisons.
She was admitted to Tehran University as a medical student and graduated as a doctor in 1950 although she did not practice medicine and preferred to work at the Ministry of Culture. She soon became active in politics and participated in parties that advocated issues such as women suffrage. Parsa became a Majlis representative in 1963. On Aug, 27, 1968 she became Minister of Education in the cabinet of Prime Minister Amir Abbas Hoveida's government, thus becoming the first female minister in Iran's history.
She was arrested after the 1979 revolution, after been out of office for eight years although, even out of office, she remained an outspoken campaigner for women's rights. She was prosecuted in Revolutionary Court headed by Ayatollah Khalkhali. She wrote in a letter sent to her family that she would not bow to those who expected her to express regret for fifty years of her efforts for equality between men and women. Apparently, at the primitive court, she was given a last chance to repent which she refused. Farrokhroo Parsa was executed on May 8, 1980.