A perspective on the fertility behavior of Iranian women
Farzaneh Z. Roudi, Population Reference Bureau (PRB)
The fertility behavior of Iranian women stands out among Muslim countries, particularly those also governed by Islamic laws. In Iran, nearly 80 percent of married women use contraception; a rate comparable to that of France, and the highest among Muslim countries. On average, Iranian women give birth to 2.0 children during their reproductive years; a rate similar to that of the United State and Tunisia, a Muslim country that has been governed by secular laws since its independence in 1950s. The Iranian experience is unique because its fertility transition came about relatively quickly and without restrictive fertility policies (like China’s), or legalized abortion like Tunisia or the United States. This paper examines the policy and programmatic aspects of the Iranian experience that have helped improve women’s reproductive health and rights—while living under Islamic laws—and highlights lessons for other Muslim countries, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, or Yemen.