Iran removed illustrations of girls from the front covers of a third-grade math textbook, prompting dozens of Iranians to take to social media platforms to call out the Ministry of Education.
As schools in Iran reopened following months-long closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, Iranian parents noticed that the cover of the latest edition of a textbook was different.
In previous years, an illustration of three boys and two girls playing under a tree was sketched on the front cover. This year, however, only the three boys remained.
“I think I drew this in the year  for the third grade math textbook… it is unbelievable to me that they would take [someone’s] drawing so easily and remove the girls!” the drawing’s illustrator, Nasim Bahari said in an Instagram post of an earlier version of the book alongside the latest copy.
According to Bahari, the illustration was changed because one girl was drawn sitting on a tree while another looked as if she was reaching out to hug one of the boys.
“Iran’s Department of Education removed picture of girls from 3rd grade Math book cover! Just a reminder that Iranian Mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani who was the first women in the world that received the highest award in math! You can delete female pictures but not their success!” one Twitter user said.
Iran’s department of Eduction removed picture of girls from 3rd grade Math book cover! Just a reminder that Iranian Mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani who was the first women in the world that received the highest award in Math! You can delete female pictures but not their success! pic.twitter.com/gjJucqKYCA— Leila Jamoosian (@Leilajamoosian) September 11, 2020
Another Twitter account, dedicated to reporting on Iran, wrote “#Iran’s Ministry of Education said the pics of girls were removed from this year’s 3rd-grade math books due to “artistic, aesthetic and psychological” reasons and because the front cover was “too crowded.”
#Iran's Ministry of Education said the pics of girls were removed from this year's 3rd-grade math books due to "artistic, aesthetic and psychological" reasons and because the front cover was "too crowded".— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) September 10, 2020
(Image credit @HeshmatAlavi) pic.twitter.com/iCGMcIvL9S
Under Iranian law, the rights of women are limited and so much of their freedom is dependent on whether they have their male relatives’ permission. Iran has also made hijab compulsory for all women, punishing for all those who muster the courage to defy the rigid laws.