Baroness Haleh Afshar

Professor Haleh Afshar

Haleh Afshar teaches Politics and Women’s Studies at the University of York and Islamic Law at the Faculte Internationale de Droit Compare at Strasbourg. In the Department of Politics she is the Director of the MSc in Development and Administrative Problems, while also doubling as the Director of the MSc in Women, Development and Administration – the only course of its kind in the UK – at the Centre for Women’s Studies.

In October 2007, Professor Afshar was conferred a peerage in recognition of her work – she will take up a seat on the House of Lords cross-benches as a non-party political peer.

She is the joint convenor of the Development Studies’ Association’s Women and Development Study Group and has edited several books produced by this group; the most recent include Women and Empowerment, Illustrations from the Third World Macmillan, Basingstoke 1998 and Women and Globalization and Fragmentation in the Developing World, edited with Stephanie Barrientos Macmillan 1999.

Professor Afshar was born and raised in Iran where she worked as a journalist and a civil servant before the revolution. She has provided a moving account of her experiences in the aftermath of September 11: As that day, September 11, unfolded, I turned into a Muslim. Of course I was born a Muslim in Iran, I grew up as one under the Shah in the 1950s and 1960s, but I had never really thought about it, it wasn’t an issue, just there in the background. But after that conference I took a taxi back to the station. The driver was a Muslim, and when he realised I was one as well, he slowed right down. He asked me what we could do, as Muslims, about this terrible event, and about our own position. We progressed across that city at around 10 miles an hour – and talked and talked….Maybe it is because I am used to working within liberal academia, where it is less of an issue, than in other harsher places where Muslims are trying to make themselves invisible, but all of this has brought out the Muslim in me, an attitude of ‘I will face you all’. I object to being cowed”.