Since the 1979 Revolution, films by female directors like Rakhshan Bani-Etemad and Samira Makhmalbaf had gained international acclaim. Actresses like Mary Apick and Taraneh Alidoosti had made a name for themselves. Iranian women had used cinema to challenge patriarchal authority despite facing unequal gender power balance within the industry. In April 2022, hundreds of female actors and directors called out systematic violence against women in the industry.
Despite repression and censorship, women played an integral role in Persian literature for centuries. In the 20th century, female authors such as Simin Daneshvar, Mahshid Amirshahi, Shahrnush Pārsipur, Moniru Ravānipur and Zoya Pirzad began writing prolifically. Most notably, Simin Behbahani challenged traditional gender roles through her work which was recognised internationally with a Nobel Prize nomination in 1997 and presidency of The Iranian Writers' Association.
Women in Iran have a vibrant history of performing arts dating back to the sixth millennium BC. Archaeological artifacts show that dance was celebrated for all occasions including plays, dramas, mourning and religious rituals. Over time, the culture of dance evolved to include unique group dances and solo improvisational forms. Yet, female performers had continued to be banned from certain types of performances despite their significant contributions to the arts throughout Iranian history.
Iranian women faced socio-cultural restrictions in the music industry throughout history, particularly after the 1979 Revolution. A ban was placed on female soloists singing for male audiences and strict monitoring of the music industry emerged. Women made progress in recent decades with more opportunities becoming available, but Shia leaders continued to forbid women from singing solo due to concerns about their voices being provocative for men. Bands with female singers often faced difficulty obtaining permits for concerts.
Women in Iran have a complex history of sports participation. Despite restrictions like banning bicycles and pepper-spraying female fans, women have fought for their right to participate with fairness and respect. Kimia Alizadeh, Olympic medalist, moved to Germany in 2020 due to perceived injustice and hypocrisy of the Iranian regime. Elnaz Rekabi posted photos training without a hijab; Sadaf Khadem won a fight overseas while bare-headed but remained in France after authorities issued an arrest warrant. Women have historically also been banned from certain sporting events.