Iran’s Crown Princess Yasmine Pahlavi is among influential Iranian women who, as a woman, mother and wife, plays an important role in many social spheres.
Married to Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi, Ms. Pahlavi has long been active in support of rights of children and refugees. She is among the brave women who broke the norms by using the power of social media by openly talking about her breast cancer; an act that was previously a taboo for many Iranian women.
Yasmine Etemad-Amini (Pahlavi) was born in Tehran on July 26, 1968. She completed her primary school education in Tehran’s American-run Community School. When her family was forced to leave Iran, she moved with them to California. She then enrolled in the Notre Dame High School in Belmont, California and married Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi in June, 1986. They have had three daughters together: Princesses Noor, Iman and Farah.
Ms. Pahlavi earned her BA in political science and her law degree from George Washington University. She has long used her expertise in supporting children and youth suffering from societal problems and poverty.
She has supported the efforts of her husband, Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi, to help achieve democracy and secularism in Iran while keeping her focus on issues related to Iran, especially those pertaining to Iranian children, refugees and women.
Independent Persian’s Editor-in-Chief Camelia Entekhabifard spoke to Crown Princess Yasmine Pahlavi about her activities and her work on women and social problems in Iran.
In 1991, you founded the charity organization Foundation for the Children of Iran. Can you tell us what were the goals of the foundation and what has it achieved in the years since?
Yes, we founded the organization in 1991 to help the children in our homeland who were suffering from severe diseases. I did this with the help of a friend who had very good connections with the medical community. I also wanted to have closer ties to my country. The main goal of the foundation was to help children who couldn’t be treated in Iran by bringing them to the best hospitals in the US so that they could be treated with the best possible doctors. It was completely free of charge for all the families. At the same time, it was a very good opportunity to meet these families in person.
You are known as a serious defender of Iranian women’s rights. What do you think is the perspective of Iranian women’s rights movement given the problems and limitations?
Women were among the first victims of the Islamic Republic. I have long believed that the Iranian women are of a truly different quality. For 42 years, they’ve shown unprecedented courage to Iranians and the world. They have always been in the first rank of demonstrations and have fought the gender apartheid in Iran from day one. I should also say that even in exile I’ve seen many Iranian women who have been the main source of support for their family, financially or otherwise. Iranian women are truly unique; they are very resistant. When I look at the situation of Iranian women, I have a very hopeful perspective. I deeply believe that the Iranian women will play a key role in taking our country back and in the national struggle.
You travelled to Greece last year to see the conditions of Iranian refugees close by. Your trip was welcomed by many in the refugee community. What do you think about the conditions of refugees and given the current situation in Iran what global solution can help them?
Many Iranians abroad don’t know much about the conditions of our fellow Iranians who are refugees. That’s why I went to Greece to get to know their problems up close. I met many of our fellow Iranians in this trip and I learnt a lot. We were supposed to make another visit to Greece but that trip was cancelled due to the coronavirus. My suggested solution was Iranian-to-Iranian help. We shouldn’t wait for other countries. That’s why we founded a charity in Greece and we now have a team of psychologists who are helping our refugee fellow Iranians in Greece. I want to ask our compatriots to help this project. They can find a link for this on my Instagram page. Especially now that we are getting close to Nowruz and help in such conditions can be more prominent.
Battling cancer is difficult and requires a strong will. You fought breast cancer and then launched a movement to educate people about it. Can you tell us about this experience?
I have never been much of a public personality and didn’t have much activity on social media. This changed when I got cancer. The main reason I joined Instagram publicly was to start a dialogue with the women of my homeland; women who had gone through this experience. I wanted to learn from their experience and share mine. I also wanted to break taboos. Iranian women shouldn’t die just because they get this cancer. They should have home visits every month and quickly see doctors if need be. I also wanted to report to my compatriots about what I had learnt myself and of the great facilities that I had and many of my compatriots might not. This was my main goal and it was a very valuable experience.
What do you think will help shape the conditions of women in Iran, following the downfall of the reactionary regime? What should freedom-loving women in Iran and abroad do to prepare for future?
As I said before, Iranian women were among the first victims of the 1979 revolution. Before the revolution, the late Shah had done a lot to give rights to Iranian women including granting female suffrage while even a few countries in Europe were yet to do this; or there was the Family Law which was a fantastic achievement or the fight against child marriages by raising the legal marriage age for boys and girls. In the first months after the republic was founded, the regime destroyed many of these achievements. Since then we’ve seen women struggle and they have never stopped to this day. One of the latest examples of this is the very interesting phenomenon of Enqelab Street Girls.
Naturally, Iranian women will only get their full rights when a secular and free Iran is established. This is the goal that my husband has fought for for 42 years and the most important goal of my family in general. I am very hopeful that in the free Iran of tomorrow which we will all build together; Iranian women will play a very important role and will benefit from the best resources.
You have been among the inspiring and very active women of recent years in your work for children rights, especially those of working and injured children; this is a very key issue in Iran today. As Iran seems to have no clear plan to solve these problems, how can human rights and international resources be used to help these children?
One of the biggest crises the Islamic Republic has imposed on Iran is the adverse conditions for children. There are thousands of children who have to work or live on streets. The streets have become a normal place of living for many children. This isn’t what our country deserves. The republic has failed to solve this issue because it doesn't care about children. Taking care of children should be the first duty of any government; but in Iran these children are hurt by the government, their own family and also strangers. If you want to see how honest a government is when it claims to be popular, or to verify its claims about taking care of people’s lives, it is best to judge its track-record with children.
It is truly a big shame that the Islamic Republic wastes the people’s wealth in Syria and Lebanon but doesn’t pay attention to Iranian children. I have been a lawyer in this field for 10 years and I can tell you that a government that doesn’t pay attention to children will never be accepted as effective. My daughter, Noor, is also sensitive on this issue and Empress Farah is also always thinking about this. I wish for Iranian children to know how much I think of them and I want them to know that in the glorious, free and prosperous country that we will build, all their problems will be taken care of.
This article has been syndicated from the Independent Persian.