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Dawlatabadi Women’s Library

A group of women in Tehran came together in 2001 and set up a Women’s Cultural Centre. Feeling the need to focus their efforts, they decided to create a women’s library which opened in 2005. They named it after Sedigheh Dawlatabadi, a pioneer who set up women’s schools, journals and a centre over 60 years ago.

Raising funds through donations from their friends and charity concerts, they eventually managed to buy a fourth floor apartment and so no longer had to rent the library premises. As men are not allowed in during working hours, it is a uniquely safe haven where women do not have to wear the full covering required in public.

In addition to the library facilities, free counselling services are provided, together with legal advice, as well as a more informal and relaxed atmosphere for readers. There are specialist books covering women’s issues, as well as more general material.

There are no strict criteria for joining as there are in some larger institutions, and all those who give books are treated on an equal basis as contributing towards the building up of the library’s resources. Through word of mouth the number of those who come to this popular oasis in the city is increasing, and now local branches are being opened in smaller towns around the country.

In this report we are taken on a tour of Dawlatabadi Library and meet the women involved in the  this unique centre for women. 

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