Sarvestany comes from a teaching position at the Institute of Higher Education (BIHE) in Iran. During the last years, she has been teaching classes in research methodology, gender studies and development studies. She also finished her PhD in Women’s Studies in 2017, at the Savitribai Phule Pune University in India, with the thesis "Gender, Resistance, and Religion: Women’s Agency in PostRevolutionary Iran".
Sarvestany’s background shaped her educational choices and research interests early on.
‘As a member of a religious minority facing oppression, discrimination and deprivation of human rights under a patriarchal and religious system, I have always been concerned about the civil rights of marginalized groups, especially women and children from poor families,‘ Sarvestany tells us. She was 19 years old when she decided to volunteer for a non-governmental organization. This organization worked for the education of children and empowerment of women who were living in disadvantaged areas in a city south in Iran. At this time, Sarvestany was also a sociology student in Iran.
‘Working with this NGO made me into someone who really likes to bring changes into the lives of marginalized groups, and this also helped me understand what I wanted to do with my academic life. It was a turning point in my life when I realized that my studies, research and social activities should go hand in hand’, Sarvestany says.
She is now in Norway through the Scholars at Risk-program, an international network that aims to protect scholars and promote academic freedom. During her stay at the Faculty of Theology, she will focus on the experiences of intellectuals in Iran after the Islamic revolution.
‘This is to raise the voices of resilience and agency of the people. I believe that their experiences are part of the human history, and therefore everyone has a right to hear and comprehend their story.’
In addition to this, Sarvestany hopes to give a lecture on the Baha’i writings while she is here.
‘I hope that I will be able to offer a lecture on the Baha’i writings, in order to increase understanding of the principles and doctrine of the Baha’i faith here at the faculty.’