Iran’s Millennials: The Burgeoning Generation

Iran’s millennials (Nasl-e Sevvom meaning the ‘Third Generation’ in Farsi) includes the generations born in […]


Iran’s millennials (Nasl-e Sevvom meaning the ‘Third Generation’ in Farsi) includes the generations born in the post-Islamic Revolutionary decades. Their presence in society is first and foremost impressive in its sheer number, composing more than 60% of Iran’s population of 75 million.

This youthful group has grown up in the reformist Khatami administration (1997-2005) and painfully entered adulthood under the conservative Ahmadinejad administration (2005-2013). The generation’s first serious movement toward shifting politics was met with a violent response – mass arrests and fatalities in 2009. Demonstrators, mostly made of millennials, poured onto the street in their millions across the country, to ask “Where did my vote go?”. The 2009 election, which ushered in the political-fraught, second Ahmadinejad administration, not only resulted in the arrest of his liberal opponent Mousavi (and the mass arrest of thousands of his supporters), but also sent a stark message to Iran’s next generation that their political involvement was unwelcome, as the price for participation would be high.

The ability for there to be mass mobilisation during the 2009 elections, dubbed the “Green Revolution”, and the spread of information during protests was made possible by the use of technology and instantaneous communication. With more than 30 million internet users on government-banned digital platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube – not withstanding various blogs – this dissemination of information to the Iranian population and international community was made possible.

Iranian youth have found ways to bypass ever-increasing government censorship, thus continuing their political conversations and movements online. Ironically, Iranian authorities have had to recognise that their outreach to the population is best achieved through an active online presence on those very platforms that they themselves have banned.

A massive brain drain with a high cost for political activism has left many youth sceptical about a possibility for large-scale change in the country. Instead, millennials are increasingly turning towards bringing small changes within the system. Through the use of internet-based activism, millennials galvanised successfully behind the election of the free-market oriented Rouhani administration; and the latest polls illustrate a swing toward a more liberal parliament.

The latest results increasingly suggest that this generation does not share the same Islamic-Revolutionary consciousness, nor ethos, of their parents. Perhaps now more than ever, many youths are motivated to change the political system by working within, rather than against it. The challenge in the coming years will be how millennials can remodel the aging power structures in the Iranian government, in order to have better representation that reflects their desires and needs.

Photo: Tehran, Iran – Iranian youth celebrate as the nuclear deal was reached between Iran and the six world powers.

Find all related publications

A European Health Union

A blueprint for generations

Making trade work for prosperity, people and planet

FEPS Primers series - Arancha González and Yanis Bourgeois

SDGs for all: Strategic scenarios

Earth4All system dynamics modelling of SDG progress

European perceptions of public programmes for zero unemployment

Online survey and qualitative interviews: The results
Find all related news

FEPS is recruiting 1 project officer

Notice of vacancy

FEPS President at the SDG Summit and United Nations General Assembly in New York

FEPS President Maria João Rodrigues is in New York this week on the occasion of […]

Call for tender – Researcher on inflation

Basic Information Project    The profits-prices spiral: measures to avoid inflation  Partners   TASC (Ireland), Pietro Nenni Foundation (Italy)  […]

Call for tender – Research and analysis for the project “Progressive paths to rebuild Ukraine”

Basic Information Project Research “In search of a ‘lost generation’. Harnessing youth potential for post-war […]
Find all related in the media
In the media

‘SDG funding gap swells to $137trn’ New Policy Study from FEPS, together with Earth4All, to deliver a five-point plan for the SDGs.

by Edie 19/09/2023
The “SDGs for All” report emphasises that policymakers have the potential to significantly advance SDG implementation by the original 2030 deadline and beyond by enacting five “extraordinary turnarounds” that break away from current trends.

“Trade doesn’t work in isolation from good domestic policies” Interview to Arancha González

by Borderlex 19/09/2023
Interview to Arancha González, former Spanish foreign minister, who released together with FEPS the new book entitled 'The Trade Handbook: Making Trade Work for Prosperity, People and Planet'

AI to ‘determine course of global trade, jobs’ in near future

by The Financial Express 14/09/2023
The Financial Express's article focuses on the publication of FEPS Primer on Trade written by Arancha González Laya and Yanis Bourgeois

Un nuevo informe de prospectiva identifica las medidas políticas urgentes necesarias para volver a encarrilar los ODS

by Cope 14/09/2023
'New foresight report identifies urgent policy measures needed to get the SDGs back on track' Cope's article on the policy study 'SDGs for all: Strategic scenarios', published in collaboration with Earth4All