The LA Times has an interesting piece about the changing gender dynamic of Iran since the government made contraceptives free:
Without intending to, Iran’s clerical leadership helped to foster “the empowerment of Iranian women,” said Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, an Iran expert at Virginia Tech. “The mullahs may be winning the battle on the streets, but women are winning the battle inside the family.”
Iranian woman have fewer legal rights than men and are limited in which jobs they can hold and what they can wear. But more of them are attending universities and postponing childbirth. In public universities, female students now outnumber males 65% to 35%, leading to calls in parliament for affirmative action for men.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, however, has sought to reverse the trend toward smaller families. Doubling the country’s population of 75 million would enable Iran to threaten the West, he said.
He has denounced the contraceptive program as “a prescription for extinction,” called on Iranian girls to marry no later than 16 or 17 and offered bonuses of more than $950 for each child. So far, he has been widely ignored.
“Iranian women are not going back,” said Sussan Tahmasebi, an Iranian women’s rights leader now living in the United States.