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Iran´s women fight for rights 30 years after revolution
1.       cedars
235 posts
 09 Feb 2009 Mon 01:29 am

Iran´s women fight for rights 30 years after revolution
Monday, February 9, 2009

Hiedeh Farmani


Women marched alongside men in the protests that helped topple Iran´s monarchy in 1979´s Islamic revolution, and three decades later are continuing to struggle for more rights.


In a downtown Tehran art gallery, Jinoos Taghizadeh displays her latest creation: 3D prints of Iranian newspapers from 1979 superimposed on neo-classic paintings of the French revolution.


The Islamic republic still struggles to keep women properly covered by clamping down on defiant dressers in tight coats, with their hair tumbling out from under flimsy headscarves.

But ironically, the ubiquitous head-to-toe chador, the scarves and long coats that more liberal Western eyes view as oppressive for women have actually helped them achieve a greater presence in public life.



"The Islamisation of the country convinced many traditional and religious families to ease up on the visibility of their daughters in the public domain, at university or work," she added.



But women, who can be prevented from working by their husbands, account for only about 15 percent of the workforce and have only a token presence in top management and politics despite having had the vote since 1963.


And they still suffer from a whole raft of inequalities, much stemming from the Islamic legal concept that a woman is worth only half of what a man is.



Rights campaigners such as Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi have for years fought for changes in laws that discriminate against women.


"The criminal laws adopted after the revolution unfortunately took away a woman´s human identity and turned her into a incapable and mentally deranged second-class being," Ebadi said in November.


The problem, says Fakhrosadat Mohtashami-Pour, former director of the women´s bureau at the interior ministry, is that Islamic governments did not "acknowledge social and legal discrimination against women" before the reformist presidency of Mohammad Khatami (1997-2005).




Non-governmental organisations proliferated under Khatami, and Iran saw its first women in the cabinet since the revolution as vice presidents for the environment and for women´s participation.

And municipal elections, held for the first time during his tenure, sent hundreds of women on to village and town councils.


The trend has continued under Khatami´s successor, hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, despite promotion of women´s traditional roles as wives and mothers.


"This shows that Iranian society now has a positive view on women in decision-making roles," Mohtashami-Pour said.

"I believe women after the revolution have grown more conscious of their rights," Taghizadeh said.

"It is not an honour to live a hard life, all the better to get your rights on a silver platter," she said, "but they may be more appreciated and better deserved if they are hard earned."



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