Pahlavi, Ashraf (1919—)

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Pahlavi, Ashraf (1919—)

Princess of Persia, twin sister of the shah of Iran, and Iranian advocate for women's and human rights . Name variations: Princess Ashraf Pahlevi. Born on October 26, 1919, in Tehran, Iran; daughter of Tajolmolouk and Reza Shah Pahlavi, shah of Iran (r. 1925–1941 abdicated); sister of Shams Pahlavi (1917–1996); twin sister of Muhammad Reza Pahlavi also known as Riza I Pahlavi, shah of Iran (r. 1941–1979, deposed); married Ali Ghavam (a prime minister), in 1936 or 1937 (divorced 1941); married Ahmed Chafik or Shafiq Bey (b. 1911, director general of civil aviation), in 1944 (divorced 1960); married Dr. Mehdi Boushehri (b. 1916); children: (first marriage) Prince Shahram Ghavam (b. 1939); (second marriage) Prince Chahriar Chafik also seen as Shahriar or Shahryar Chafik (b. 1945 and killed in Paris on December 7, 1979); Princess Azadeh Chafik (b. 1951, who married Farshad Vahid).

Selected writings:

Faces in a Mirror (1980); Time for Truth.

The twin sister of Muhammad Reza Pahlavi, the shah of Iran from 1941 to 1979, Princess Ashraf Pahlavi was born on October 26, 1919, the daughter of Reza Shah Pahlavi and Tajolmolouk . In a country that had traditionally granted women few rights or freedoms, Princess Ashraf Pahlavi's father and her twin brother broke new ground when they became instrumental in establishing equal rights for Iranian women. During his reign, Reza Shah granted women equal educational opportunities, established the girl-guide movement, abolished the veil, and urged women to work outside their homes. Under Muhammad Reza Pahlavi's rule, the Pahlavi family continued the further emancipation of women, granting them the right to vote and to run for elected office in 1963. Princess Ashraf Pahlavi shared her family's determination to better the situation of women, and she played an active role serving as president of the Women's Organization of Iran (WOI). WOI was very active and participated in many international gatherings. Of particular note was the UN Conference on Women's Rights in Mexico in 1975, where Princess Ashraf proposed the formation of a permanent research and training institute for women's affairs, which was established in Tehran, Iran. The WOI provided Iranian women with family welfare centers where childcare, vocational training, family planning and legal issues were addressed. The organization also emphasized the importance of literacy and of teaching women marketable skills. The WOI carried out studies of the problems facing women and offered possible solutions. Iranian laws and textbooks were reviewed to ensure that women were not unfairly discriminated against.

Princess Ashraf also served as chair of the Iranian Human Rights Committee and presided over several important international conferences, including the UN Commission of the Status of Women, the UN Commission on Human Rights, and the International Human Rights Conference held in Tehran in 1988. On December 10, 1974, Human Rights Day, she presented UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim with a declaration upholding the need for greater efforts to be made to ensure real equality between women and men throughout the world.

In her publication The Plot Against the Pahlavis, Princess Ashraf covers the campaign against her brother, Muhammad Reza Pahlavi, a campaign that she feels was amplified in the media and the Western press. Faces in the Mirror (1980) concerns the family's abdication and exile, including the events that surrounded the removal of her brother, and the takeover by the Khomeini regime, and addresses accusations that were made against her and her family.

Jo Anne Anne , freelance writer, Brookfield, Vermont