Mastoureh Afshar (1898-1951 AD) was an Iranian intellectual and one of the pioneering women in the women’s rights movement.
Mastoureh was born to an intellectual and open-minded family from Urmia, Azerbaijan in Iran. At a young age she mastered French, Russian and Farsi and later joined social and cultural movements that fought for the rights of women, such as the Society of Patriotic Women.
With the 1905 Constitutional Revolution, many new societies and organizations were created and flourished. At the start of the revolution, female societies operated underground while aiding the revolution. Later, with the establishment of the parliament and the Second World War, some of those organizations began to officially operate and fight for women’s rights. The Society of Patriotic Women was one of those organizations.
When Mastoureh became president of The Society of Patriotic Women, the Society had 200 members and its goals consisted of ensuring education for both girls and old women. The Society also supported orphaned girls and established a hospital for impoverished women. It published a magazine that fought for the rights of women and created a play called “Adam and Eve” which became immensely popular in Iran. Thousands of women, including European women, would attend the show. The money from the tickets was used to fund the education of old illiterate women. However, due to severe opposition from the Islamic clergy the play had to be shut down.
Unfortunately, over time, with the accusation of having communist leanings, the Society was forced to close. Many of its female leaders, including Mastoureh, were later given the opportunity to join the Women’s Club, which was the very first female organization created by the government to assist women in need.
Until the end of her life, Mastoureh fought for the rights of women. She died in September 1951 when she was only 65 years old.