Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 May 2016, 11:51 GMT

Iran: Age at which girls/women are required to wear hijab (hejab); whether young girls (ages 6-7) attending gender segregated schools are required to wear hijab at all times including during sports activities and in hot weather (1999 - September 2000)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 21 September 2000
Citation / Document Symbol IRN35287.E
Reference 5
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Iran: Age at which girls/women are required to wear hijab (hejab); whether young girls (ages 6-7) attending gender segregated schools are required to wear hijab at all times including during sports activities and in hot weather (1999 - September 2000) , 21 September 2000, IRN35287.E , available at: [accessed 25 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

A 19 May 2000 ABC News report describes hijab as "the head to toe covering all women over the age of puberty must wear in Iran." An 18 January 1999 report from The Economist states that the chador is required attire outside of the home for all women and girls over the age of nine. This is corroborated by a 24 May 1997 article from The Toronto Star which reports that "girls are not expected to wear the headscarf [hijab] until turning 9 in Iran." In July 2000 Dawn reported on the easing of the dress code for schoolgirls in Tehran, in which

elementary schoolgirls can wear bright, happy colours such as light blue, beige, pink, light green and yellow in school. ... The Ministry said it still looked upon the black chador as the 'favoured hejab' in Islamic society, but instructed authorities to avoid "unnecessary and illogical restrictions" on schoolgirls' dress.

The new rules, however, were limited to elementary students, seen to be less inclined to make a fashion statement, and restricted to the more liberal Tehran area (19 July 2000).

A 15 September 2000 AFP article reported the 18 July 2000 announcement by the Education Ministry of a new law:

Iranian girls will be allowed to take off their obligatory head scarves at school and wear coats in colors besides black for the first time in 19 years when classes start in late September.

Girls aged between 9 and 11 will be released from the obligation to wear the traditional and mostly black head scarf, or maqna-e, which covers their entire heads and shoulders, leaving just their faces uncovered.

Even their teachers will be able to go scarf-less during classes.

The girls must still wear coats that cover their bodies past their knees but no longer have to wear black. Flashy colors such as red are still a no no, but other colors are now permitted.

However, there are two conditions for the reform.

Students from the same school must all wear the same color. And high walls must be built around the school grounds to protect the "uncovered" little girls from prying eyes.

Outside of school, all females aged nine and above must continue to abide by the strict Islamic dress code in force since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

"Now the girls can play games and exercise freely in the garden, something children always love to do," Tabrizi said [the director of central Tehran's Zeinab school for girls aged between seven and 11].

This information was corroborated by an Assistant Professor in Women's Studies at California State University, Northridge, who specializes in both women's issues and social change in Iran and the Middle East, and who is in regular contact with persons in Iran (13 Sept. 2000). She wrote that "legally" girls in Iran are required to wear the hijab, "but practically all female kids are expected and do cover themselves by a headscarve (not necessarily chador) from the first grade. The degree of strictness in observing such unwritten requirements varies from city to city and from private to public schools." In response to a question about whether girls in school are required to wear the hijab and/or chador during sport activities, or hot weather, she wrote:

Again not in all schools. In many private ("geyr-e entefai") schools and some public schools that have well secluded buildings, girls, including older ones, i.e., high school age, are expected to take off their headscarves or chadors inside the school and wear them again outside. But most schools make kids to wear on their headscarves even during sports activities. This has been criticized by many, including physicians who have testified that skin irritation and diseases among children and girls have increased due to such restricted dress codes. Recently, a new law was passed in the new Majlis (parliament)[in which the reformers and moderates have gained the upper hand], that will make such dress codes for school kids more flexible, i.e., lighter and upbeat colors will replace the dark or black ones (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


ABC News. 19 May 2000. Alison Stewart and Anderson Cooper. "Excerpt from 'Nightline' about Opression of Iranian Women." (NEXIS)

Dawn [Karachi]. 19 July 2000. "Dress Code for Iran Girls Eased." [Accessed 19 July 2000]

The Economist [London]. 18 January 1997. "Behind the Chador." (NEXIS)

Professor of Women's Studies, California State University. 13 September 2000. Correspondence.

The Toronto Star. 24 May 1997. Martin Regg Cohn. "Playing Iran's Censorship Game ... " (NEXIS)

Additional Sources Consulted

Arab Law Quarterly [London]. 1995 - 1998.

Arab Studies Quaterly [Belmont, MA]. Summer 1997 - Winter 2000.

Dossier [Montpellier, France]. July 1997 - November 1999. Women Living Under Muslim Laws.

IRB databases



Resource Centre. Iran country file. November 1997 - September 2000.

_____. Iran: Amnesty International country file. October 1998 - September 2000.

RFE/RL Iran Report [Prague]. November 1998 - August 2000.

Win News [Lexington, Mass.]. Winter 1998 - Summer 2000.

World News Connection (WNC)

Internet sites including:

NetIran Website. Encompassing IRNA 1993-98, Iran News 1993-99, Tehran Times 1995-98.

Search engines including:


Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

Search Refworld