Princess Ashraf devoted a significant part of her life to promoting the rights and freedoms of Iranian women and helping to improve the living standards of the downtrodden. As the honorary president of the Women’s Organization of Iran (WOI), she played an active role in promoting the organization’s educational, cultural, legal and political objectives. Her support helped enable WOI to mobilize Iranian women, who in turn sought and achieved significant rights and freedoms that enabled them increasingly to participate in their country’s political, social and economic affairs. On the eve of the Islamic revolution, the rights and freedoms gained by Iranian women had no equal in the Muslim majority countries in the world. WOI’s lasting impact is evidenced by the courageous struggle of Iranian women over the decades of Islamist rule to regain the rights and freedoms that were so cruelly wrested from them by the Islamic regime.
In her travels to different parts of Iran in early 1940s, the young Princess was deeply touched by the extent of poverty and deprivation she witnessed in Iran’s villages and urban ghettos. Assisted by several of her friends she founded the Imperial Organization for Social Services, an institution that provided essential welfare and social services for improving the life of the vulnerable members of society.
In 1964, at her brother’s recommendation to the General Assembly of the United Nations, UNESCO declared 1965-1975 the World Literacy Campaign Decade. In Iran, the Shah spearheaded the establishment of the Iran National Committee for World Literacy Program with himself as the honorary chair and the Princess as honorary vice-chair. As the Committee’s honorary vice chair, Princess Ashraf worked hard for the success of the campaign across the country. With her help, by the second half of the 1970s that campaign had developed in a national program of life-lone non-forma education.