Farrokhroo Parsa

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Farrokhroo Parsa
Parsa in 1963
Minister of Education
In office
27 August 1968 – 2 January 1971
MonarchMohammad-Reza Shah
Prime MinisterAmir Abbas Hoveida
Preceded byHadi Hedayati
Succeeded byAhmad Houshang Sharifi
Member of the Parliament of Iran
In office
15 January 1963 – 25 August 1968
Personal details
Born(1922-03-24)24 March 1922
Qom, Persia
Died8 May 1980(1980-05-08) (aged 58)
Tehran, Iran
Political party

Farrokhroo Parsa (Persian: فرخ‌رو پارسا; 24 March 1922 – 8 May 1980) was an Iranian physician, educator, and parliamentarian.

She served as minister of education under Amir Abbas Hoveida and was the first female cabinet minister. Parsa was an outspoken supporter of women's rights in Iran.

Farrokhroo Parsa was executed by firing squad on 8 May 1980 in Tehran,[1] at the outset of the Islamic Cultural Revolution.


Board of Governors of the Association of Patriotic Women (Jam'iyat-e Nesvan-e Vatankhah), Tehran, 1922–1932. Sitting on the far left is FakhrAfagh Parsa, mother of Farrokhroo Parsa.
Farrokhroo Parsa, in revolutionary court, 1979

Farrokhroo Parsa was born on 24 March 1922[2] in Qom to Farrokh-Din and Fakhr-e Āfāgh Pārsāy. Her mother, Fakhr-e Āfāgh, was the editor of the women's magazine Jahān-e Zan,[3] 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 Qavām, from Tehran to Qom, where Fakhr-e Āfāgh was placed under house arrest. It was here that Farrokhroo was born, some minutes past midnight on Iranian New Year's Eve 1922 (Nowruz, 1301 AH).[3] Later, with the intervention of Prime Minister Hasan Mostowfi ol-Mamalek, her family was allowed to return to Tehran.

Upon obtaining a medical degree, Parsa became a biology teacher in Jeanne d'Arc High School in Tehran. At the school she came to know Farah Diba, one of her students at this school, and who would later become wife of King Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.[3][4]

In 1963, Parsa was elected to parliament (the Majles), and began petitioning Mohammad Reza Pahlavi for suffrage for Iran's women.[3] She was also a driving force for legislation that amended the existing laws concerning women and family. In 1965 Pārsā was appointed Deputy Minister of Education and on 27 August 1968 she became Minister of Education in the cabinet of the Amir-Abbas Hoveyda.[3] It was the first time in the history of Iran that a woman occupied a cabinet position.

Following the Iranian Revolution, Parsa was arrested and tried by the Islamic Revolutionary Court for allegedly "plundering the national treasury," "causing corruption and spreading prostitution" in the Ministry of Education, "collaborating with SAVAK" and "dismissing combatant educators from the Ministry of Education," and "being involved in passing anti-people laws". Although Parsa was allowed to make statements in her own defense in the second session of her trial, there was no indication that she was allowed to question those who testified against her, and there is no mention of defense witnesses.[5] Parsa was executed by firing squad on 8 May 1980 in Tehran,[1]

In her last letter from prison, Farrokhroo Parsa wrote to her children: "I am a doctor, so I have no fear of death. Death is only a moment and no more. I am prepared to receive death with open arms rather than live in shame by being forced to be veiled. I am not going to bow to those who expect me to express regret for fifty years of my efforts for equality between men and women. I am not prepared to wear the chador and step back in history."[3]

Her successor as the Education Minister of Iran, Manouchehr Ganji another minister before the Islamic revolution, expressed surprise at her execution: she was "a lady, [...]Doctor, a competent physician who entertained good relations at the Ministry with revolutionaries like Beheshti, Bahonar, and Rejaii."[6] In fact, during her tenure as minister of education, Beheshti, Bahonar and Mohammed Mofatteh were on the ministry's payroll. These three were to be major players in the Islamic Revolution several years later. With her ministry's funding, Beheshti established the Islamic Center of Hamburg and Bahonar was able to set up a few Islamic public schools around Tehran.[7]

Parsa in 1977

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  1. ^ a b Lentz, Harris M., "Farrokhrou Parsa", Assassinations and Executions: An Encyclopedia of Political Violence, 1865-1986, Jefferson: McFarland, p. 208.
  2. ^ "زادروز زنده یاد دکتر فرخ رو پارسا" (in Persian). 23 March 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Bahrami, Ardavan (9 May 2005), A woman for all seasons: In memory of Farrokhrou Parsa, iranian.com.
  4. ^ Pahlavi-Diba, Farah (8 May 2000), In memory of Mrs. Farrokhrou Parsa executed on May 8, 1980, (in Persian), farahpahlavi.org, archived from the original on 25 February 2008, retrieved 30 March 2008.
  5. ^ "Farrokhru Parsa: One Person's Story". Abdorrahman Boroumand Center. Retrieved 13 August 2022.
  6. ^ Ganji, Manouchehr (2002), Defying the Iranian Revolution: From a Minister to the Shah to a Leader, p. 80[1].
  7. ^ Pirnia, Mansureh (2007), Madam Minister: A Collection of Memoirs and Notes Written by Farrokhroo Parsa

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