The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women held its 65th meeting in March with the theme of “women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life”.
With that in mind, we wanted to look at how this applies to Iran; a country ruled by a religious dictatorship that has relegated women to second-class citizens and spent 42 years enacting laws to strip them of their rights.
Well, the World Economic Forum ranked Iran above only the Congo, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, and Yemen in its most recent report on the gender gap, which is unsurprising when you consider that the system in Iran is deliberately set up to marginalize women.
Women in politics
Despite the high numbers of women who enter and succeed in higher education, it should be shocking that their participation in politics is so low, but that’s what happens when there are so many barriers.
You cannot find a single woman in the highly influential roles of:
- Supreme Leader
- Vice President
- Judiciary Chief
- Expediency Council
- Guardian Council
- Friday prayers Imam
- Press Secretary
- Chief of staff
- Provincial Governors
- Provincial mayors
In fact, for the roles of Supreme Leader and President, Iranian law stipulates that the holder be a man.
But women’s participation in any of these positions would be “meaningless” according to the Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) because they would not have the power to improve women’s lives.
In the 34-member cabinet, there are only two women present and they only hold consultancy positions rather than ministerships. Across all departments, there are only 24 female deputy ministers (5.5%)
The parliament has 16 women out of 276 members, which is a total of 5.7%, while there are only two female mayors out of 339 (0.58%). Further statistics on women’s participation at the lower levels of Iranian politics available here.
Women in economics
All of the 35 biggest banks in Iran are run by men, while there’s just one woman on the boards of directors of banks out of a total membership of 173. Meanwhile, only one of the top 104 companies in Iran is run by a woman.
Further down the economic scale, women are much less likely to be employed than men even before the pandemic, but thing got worse afterwards because women are also more likely to hold service-based and less-stable jobs.
Women’s in universities
Given the high graduation rate for women, it should be surprising that women are much less likely to end up in decision making positions at universities, but alas out of 123 public universities only two presidents are women, while out of 320 faculties only six have a female manager.