There is a world where there is a preference of genders; male over female. And as a society we have failed. Failed to provide women a platform to succeed, a reason to work and the motivation to better the community around them. Instead, we have poisoned their thoughts by promoting inferior status to men, confining them to housework and childcare and prohibiting them from obtaining skilled work from outside. These women have been stripped of all humanity and robbed of all civil liberties. And of course, nothing is said about it because this was prescribed in the holy book, the Quran.
Looking all around the world, there will be women with these restrictions in every corner, alley, neighborhood and town. Iranian women fall deliberately in this category. Women here lack basic freedoms and as said in Iranian law and Constitution, one woman is the equivalent of half a male. In essence, half a human. The religion was founded and maintained on principles of inequality between the genders. This difference between the two genders is the same that gives a daughter half the inheritance and compensation of a son.
This law claims that the unintentional death of a female of any age is worth exactly half the attention and money of any male. It is even typical, legal and uncontested for a woman to be beat down or even stoned for performing the most minute offenses. Furthermore, while a man can openly and randomly declare on one of his wives, a woman can neither marry a non-Islamic nor announce a divorce without evidence or in case of absolute extremities. Many women stay bound to their marriages from fear of knowing they would automatically lose their children in a battle for custody.
Women are also not permitted to leave the country’s border without explicit consent from her husband. And in case they even consider the possibility, women are condemned for making any effort to pursue a career in politics. In the name of betterment for the country, the people assert their claim that there is a law proclaiming a woman’s place is not in government. The previous laws are merely just the beginning of the trauma faced by women on a daily basis in Iran. When there is all this weight chaining them down, how can they be expected to pretend to be liberated and to succeed?
The banning of women from obtaining titles in high government, unethical treatment by males around them, and faltering opportunity of seeking education has made life for women in Iran increasingly difficult to sustain. Change was brought about, or at the least thought about bringing about during the presidential term of Seyed Mohammad Khatami. Prior to his entrance to the government, there was a monopoly held by men in office which prevented females from holding positions as administrative officials or higher management.
While by the 1990s there were a handful of women acting in Parliament, they were barricaded from moving upward. During Khatami’s term, he elected a woman to a notable government position. He awarded Masoumeh Ebtekar with the title of Vice President, making her the first ever woman to accomplish the deed, responsible for dealing with environmental issues and taking measures to protect it. His disciple, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad followed in his footsteps, appointing Marzieh Vahid-Dastjerdi as the first female minister of the IRI, specifically for Health and Medical Education along with inducting five additional new female faces.
In the next few months however, he proved his intentions when Dastjerdi was removed from her position and quickly replaced by a male representative. Furthermore, another woman by the name Nina Siahkali Moradi was hired and fired from taking her seat at city council because she was categorized as distractingly attractive. The government did not pass legislation to help the women in their country because they were strict followers of the Quran- his holiness had already instructed how women were to be treated and this could not be changed- so they did something they were actually allowed to do.
They started increasing involvement of women in government and politics nationally. With Iran, for every one step taken forward, two steps are drawn backwards. Iran’s current president, Hassan Rouhani, has made his case clear by disclosing he will not be nominating any women for his ministry due to reasons of personal concern and because he does not believe that opening up opportunities in the government for the women in his country will make the border for gender inequality fainter.
Despite this allegation, Rouhani eliminated his all male cabinet, chose a vice president and instructed all his previous male cabinet members to appropriately award positions to women in departments that would directly benefit from their involvement. Rouhani has further pledged to create an entirely separate ministry to be composed of only women and for promotion of their freedoms. So while there may have been initial haste and hesitation, there is definite progress being made with incorporation of women in political stances.
As with any issue, it is rare for it to be completely resolved or repaired especially when there is prejudice involved and present. There is an entire history, an entire culture tied to this tale of belittling a woman’s role in outside life and politics. While there is significant improvement in the ways of life for Iranian women, it is reasonable that this problem will never dissolve fully. Life for women in Iran is much better in comparison to other Middle Eastern countries, in recent years they have been able to own property, begin their own businesses, drive their own cars and economically regulate their lives themselves.
But there is still work to be done. If Khatami keeps his word and slowly but surely embodies women into the government, the reforms made will be monumental. Giving a woman a voice is the most powerful tool, weapon, and force to be reckoned with. When and if the face of Iran is represented by women they will have achieved maximum glory as political backing is the most dominant and authoritative way of accomplishing goals in any and every sector.
For now all that can be done is empowering women by merging them with men in politics, and maybe someday the president of this nation will be a woman too. Taking this course of action will have a lasting impact on the rest of the world because it will confirm to them that Iran has a reputable image to maintain and that they respect and abide to human rights. Giving women jobs in the government where the country will be recognized for doing so globally will refurbish Iran’s dignity in the eyes of outsider nations.
The world has had a close to nothing impact on how Iran treats its women because Iran’s primary theocracy is on the basis of its father faith of Islam. The Islamic faith has guided them through every decision they made in the past and will continue to do so in the future. So while there is a tinge of hope that Rouhani and the government can ease quality of life for women as well as their ability to attain work, there is no promise that he will carry out his word nor that if he does, that the policies would stay intact for his descending Iranian presidents to follow.