First Iranian Female Journalists


In this article the life story and the works of Ezzat Molk Dowlatshahi, Sedigheh Dowlat Abadi, Shahnaz Rushdieh, Iran Taimourtash, Shireen Bakhtiar, Christiane Amanpour, Davar Ardalan, and Rudabeh Bakhtiar as the First Iranian Female Journalists are briefly studied.

Ezzat Molk Dowlatshahi (EMD)
Some documents indicate that Ezzat Molk Dowlatshahi (EMD) granted the title of Ashrafolsaltaneh may be regarded as the First Iranian Female Journalist (1). EMD was the great-great-granddaughter of Fat′h-Ali Shah Qajar of the Qajar Dynasty and according to Genealogy of the Qajar Dynasty she was known as Shahzadi Izzat ul-Mulk Dowlatshahi (2). Ashrafolsaltaneh was the wife of Mirza Mohammad Hssan Etemadolsaltaneh (MHE), the Minister of Publications and the Head to the Office of Translation during Nasseredin Shah Qajar who ruled from 1848 to 1896. The daily journals published by MHE and EMD are the most important documents about Qajar era in Iran (3).

Sedigheh Dowlat Abadi (SDA)
She was born in Esfahan in 1882. Her name is also spelled as Sediqeh Dowlatabadi (4). Haj Mirza Hadi Dowlat Abadi, a learned and religious man from an old and highly respected family, was her father. She started her education in Persian and Arabic under Sheikh Mohammad Rafi’a Attari in Tehran. Further she studied at the House of Sciences & Techniques (in Persian: Darolfonoon) in Tehran (5).
SDA was an Iranian feminist activist and journalist and one of the pioneering figures in women’s movement in Iran. In 1919, SDA published the first women gazette in Esfahan called Women’s Tribune, in Persian: Zaban-e Zanan (4). In 1923, she moved to Paris and obtained a BA degree in Education from Sorbonne University. In spring of 1926, She as the representative of Iranian women attended the tenth congress of “International Alliance for Women’s Suffrage”. In early 1928, SDA returned to Iran and unveiled kept busy with the cultural and educational activities. It should be noted that the compulsory unveiling of women was introduced in 1936. In October 1928, she was appointed as supervisor of women’s education in the Ministry of Education and Fine Arts, and the next year she was appointed as the Director General of Women Schools Supervisory Office, and in 1936 she became the president of “Women’s Association”. At 80, she passed away in Tehran on 30 July 196. In her will she proclaimed: “I will never forgive women who visit my grave veiled”. Almost tow years after the Islamic Revolution in Iran, in August 1980 Islamic vigilantes demolished her tomb and the tombs of her father and brother who, although men of religion, had supported her activities (5).

Shahnaz Rushdieh
She was born in 1901. Her father was Mirza Hassan Rushdieh (also spelled as Rushdiyah/ Roshdieh) who was an Iranian teacher, politician, and journalist (6). Her mother was Alavieh Khaanom. At the end of 19th century, some Iranian reformists started to open separate schools for girls and boys in different cities of Iran. These reforms were led by Shahnaz’s parents, Alavieh Khaanom and Hassan Rushdieh, who established the first Primary Schools (in Persian: Dabestans) in Tabriz in 1887 and in Tehran in 1898 (7). Shahnaz was also known as Shahnaz Azad who was an Iranian feminist activist and journalist and also one of the pioneering figures in women’s movement in Iran. Shahnaz married to Abulghasem Azad Maraghehii who was a journalist too. First, she was helping her husband to produce his journal. Shortly after in 1920 she published her own periodical named Journal of Women, in Persian: Naameh-e Baanovan (6). A Collection of newspapers related to Shahnaz Azad and her husband, Abulghasem Azad Maraghehii, may be viewed online (8). At 60, she died in 1961(6).

Iran Taimourtash
She was born as Irandokht in Bojnord, the capital city of North Khorasan, in 1914. Her family name is also spelled as Teymourtash. Abdolhossein was her father whose position as the second most powerful political personality in Iran, from 1925 to 1932, was one of the factorsthat Iran Taimourtash could play a prominent role in Iranian women’s affairs early in her life. Prior to her father’s removal from office in 1932, she attended the American Girl’s College in Tehran. In 1931, she was sent abroad to attend preparatory college in London; however, after a year of attending college, she quit and returned to Iran upon hearing that her father had been charged as a Russian secret agent and arrested. Her father was murdered in prison in 1933, and his immediate family was held under house arrest. As such, Iran Taimourtash endured eight years of exile. After being released from exile in 1941, she travelled to Iraq and succeeded in arranging for the extradition to Iran of the individual believed to have killed her father, Dr. Ahmad Ahmadi known as Pezeshk Ahmadi, who was subsequently tried and sentenced in Tehran for having arranged the murder of various individuals. In 1943, due to the flourishing of the free press, Iran Taimourtash served as the editor of an Iranian newspaper after she established and published the Rastakhiz newspaper. Nonetheless, within several years of publishing Rastakhiz, she moved to Paris where she lived for the remainder of her life. She also obtained a doctorate degree in litetarture while residing in Paris where she pursued a career in journalism, and in 1976 acted briefly as the press attache at the Iranian embassy in Paris. She became an active member of PEN International and André Malraux’s International Association of Writers for the Defense of Culture. Like her father, she was awarded France’s highest civilian honour, the Legion d’honneur. Iran Taimourtash died in Paris in 1991(9 & 10).

Shireen Bakhtiar
She was born in New York in 1930 to Dr Abolqassem Bakhtiar and Helen Jeffreys, a nurse from rural Idaho. Shireen (also speiied as Shirin} spent her childhood in Tehran, Masjed Soleiman and Abadan. She graduated from high school in Washington, DC and studied art in college. In the 1960’s and 70’s, she was a successful painter and journalist while also working for the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) in Abadan. Shireen worked as a reporter/editor for the NIOC’s newsletter named Torch of Abadan (in Persian: Mash’aal-e-Abadan), which was published from October 1965 to January 1966. She worked for the NIOC in Abadan until 1977. In 1978, she moved to the United States and lived in Rochester Hills, Michigan.
In 1994, Shireen Bakhtiar took up poetry with a pen name of White Cloud. Her poetry collection “White Cloud: A Book of Poems” was published in 1995. One of her poem about “Isfahan” was awarded third prize in the 1997 North American Poetry Competition organzied by the National Poetry Library in Owings Mills, Maryland, USA. Shireen Bakhtiar died in November 2003 (11 & 12). She was the mother of Jahanshah Javid, the founding publisher and editor of

Christiane Amanpour
Raised in Tehran, Christiane Amanpour was born in London, England on 12 January 1958 to Iranian father Mohammad, an airline executive, and British mother, Patricia. After completing the larger part of her elementary education in Iran, she was sent by her parents to boarding school in England when she was 11. She attended Holy Cross Convent, an all-girls school located in Chalfont St. Peter, Buckinghamshire, and then, at age 16, New Hall School, in Chelmsford, Essex. Christiane and her family returned to England not long after the Revolution of 1979 in Iran. After her graduation from New Hall, Amanpour moved to the United States to study journalism at the University of Rhode Island. During her time there, she worked in the news department at WBRU-FM in Providence, Rhode Island. She also worked for NBC affiliate WJAR in Providence, Rhode Island, as an electronic graphics designer. In 1983, Amanpour graduated from the university summa cum laude with a BA degree in journalism. She is currently the Chief International Correspondent for CNN and host of CNN International’s nightly interview program Amanpour. She’s also a Global Affairs Anchor of ABC News.
Christiane Amanpour is also a member of the board of directors of the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Center for Public Integrity, and the International Women’s Media Foundation.
She is married to James Rubin, a former Assistant Secretary of State and spokesman for the US State Department during the Clinton administration and currently an informal adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama. Their son, Darius John Rubin, was born in 2000. The family resides in New York City (13).

Davar Ardalan
Her full name is Iran Davar Ardalan. Ardalan earned a BA in communications and journalism from the University of New Mexico. She was born in San Francisco and has also lived and worked in Iran as a television newscaster for IRIB (Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting) English News. Ardalan attended elementary and middle school at Iranzamin International School in Tehran and graduated from Brookline High School in Brookline, Massachusetts (14).
Davar Iran Ardalan is a civic journalist and noted speaker with decades of news gathering and leadership roles in Public Broadcasting (15).

Rudabeh Bakhtiar
Also known as Rudi Bakhtiar, she is the first Iranian American journalist to anchor a prime time news hour in the United States, called “CNN Headline News Tonight”. She has over a decade experience working for major international news outlets CNN and Fox News Channel. Bakhtiar was the Director of Communications for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, and serves as senior advisor at Voice of America.
She was born in Fresno (California, US) on 21 June 1966. Bakhtiar’s great-grandfather is named Sardar Jang who was a prominent figure of Iranian tribe of Bakhtiari. By age two, her family moved from Fresno, California to Los Angeles, California. When she was five years old, her family moved back to Iran. Bakhtiar was raised in Iran until the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Her family moved back to the United States when she was seventeen years old.
In 1990, she attended the University of California, Los Angeles, where she received a BS in biology. In 2002, Bakhtiar received the Iranian American Republican Council Achievement Award in recognition of outstanding achievements, excellence and accomplishments within the Iranian American community. According to Lycos, she was ninth ranked in the top twenty TV news personalities with the most searches from January through August of 2003 (16 & 17).
Here are some quotations attributed to Rudabeh Bakhtiar: “1. America has always been like a father to me, but Iran will always be my mother in my heart. 2. I was a biology major at UCLA but I always had an interest in journalism. I had applied to NYU for dental school and was accepted, but I had reservations about going. The urge to be a journalist was too strong for me to ignore. So I took an internship in Los Angeles, and the rest is history” (17).

It should be also noted that about 1.5 centuries after EMD, the Iranian Rana Foroohar has become a shining star of the media, a respected editor, and a very well-known journalist all over the world. Her life story and works have been already presented in an article written by this author (18). 

Manouchehr Saadat Noury, PhD


Ezzat Molk Dowlatshahi (EMD)

Sedigheh Dowlat Abadi (SDA)

Iran Taimourtash

Shireen Bakhtiar

Christiane Amanpour

Davar Ardalan

Rudabeh Bakhtiar



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