The United States has urged Iranian authorities to protect women's rights, including access to education, in the wake of reports that 36 Iranian universities have banned women from 77 critical fields of study.
According to reports, universities have issued notifications stating that female students are not eligible for admission to 77 B.A. and B.Sc. degree courses in critical fields of study including English literature, English translation, electrical engineering, business management, education, counseling and computer science.
The new policy will be implemented this fall when students return to campus, Iranian media reported.
A number of university deans have justified their actions by saying that certain courses have a "manly nature" and are not suitable for women, and that there are not enough jobs available for them after they graduate.
Science Minister Kamran Daneshjoo has called the segregation effort a top priority to protect morality.
The decision represents a significant regression for Iranian women, who have outnumbered men in universities for over a decade, and will further restrict their ability to find employment, the U.S. State Department said in a statement on Tuesday.
It will undermine the efforts of Iranian women to freely determine their futures and diminish the potential of the Iranian workforce, says the statement issued by Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland.
The U.S. government called upon Iranian authorities to protect women's rights and to uphold Iran's own laws and international obligations which guarantee non-discrimination in all areas of life, including access to education.
Currently, women constitute around 65 percent of university students in the Islamic Republic.
Education for women is under outright threat in the Shia majority country. The New York Times notes that last year Iranian universities had mooted segregating male and female students, but the idea was discouraged by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
by RTT Staff Writer
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