Maryam Amid Semnani who lived in the late 1800s to mid-1900s is known to be Iran’s first female journalist. This is at a time when reading and writing were not encouraged in women and in fact the King, Naser ed Din Shah Qajar, so did not like women to be educated that some of his wives hid their ability to read and write from him.
Maryam Amid was the only daughter of the Shah’s physician, Mir Seyyed Razi Semnani, who took the education of his daughter in his own hands. Maryam Amid received primary education from her father and later on, continued her studies in French and photography.
In 1910, she established the first magazine for women called “Science,” which though was shut down within a year, had a huge impact on society during the Constitution Revolution. Her second publication called Shokoufeh (Blossom) was made available in 1913 and became the largest dedicated newspaper for women. She also used the paper to fight superstition and traditional views held by many women. By condemning women’s traditional and underdeveloped attitudes and highlighting how women outside of Iran lived, especially in Europe, she increased Iranian women’s awareness in a lasting and fundamental way.
She established a girl’s school called Mazineyeh. Due to conservative and patriarchal views of the society, families were hesitant to educate their daughters. Maryam Amid, therefore, came up with a brilliant plan. For every two students who signed up, one student could attend school for free, but then the parents could not pull out their daughters until the end of their studies. This plan was effective in encouraging girls to finish their education.
Maryam Amid died in September 1919 on a trip to her hometown, Semnan, due to a heart attack.