The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Student Profiles

Pardis Asadi Zeidabadi

Project title: Conceptions of democracy in secular and religious feminism in contemporary Iran. An empirical exploration

Supervisors: Prof Janice McLaughlin and Prof Esteban Castro

My thesis is focused on exploration of the conceptions of democracy held by secular and religious feminism in Iran. In contemporary Iran, access to political power is highly gendered. Women are constrained by both legal and informal forms of discrimination. Exploring women’s experiences of citizenship and democracy could offer a space to explore such constraints and forms of discrimination.

My research aims to find out what are the ideas around democracy and citizenship that these two kinds of feminism propose, what in practice these groups do, and who participates in them. Iran is a country in which women are denied any meaningful participation in political and economic institutions. Within his context, I am interested in exploring the relationship between inequality and notions of democracy from the viewpoint of feminist activism in Iran.

I want to assess the divergent conceptions of democracy in Islamic and secular feminism and examine the obstacles and possibilities that these conceptions pose to feminist activists seeking to work together and attain the common goals of women empowerment and gender equality. Taking into account that at the turn of the Twentieth-First century women's movements have become very influential in Iran, studying the relationship between Islamic and secular feminism in and their potential influence in the country’s democratization process has paramount importance.

My research aims to make a contribution towards a better understanding of the obstacles and opportunities facing these movements and, consequently, the future of democracy in Iran.