Rouhani calls for More Iranian Women to ‘Lean in’ to Politics

By Arash Karami, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani encouraged greater female participation in politics and culture at a conference Feb. 8 titled “Women, Moderation and Development.”

Rouhani said that women’s rights in Iran have come a long way since the first days of the 1979 revolution. He recalled that during those days, there were some clerics with “extreme ideologies” who had religious objections to women participating in protests. The clerics had gone as far as asking women to not chant slogans so that their voices would not be heard by unrelated men.

Rouhani said that the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, former Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, had rejected these extreme opinions and said that women were encouraged to both protest in the streets and chant slogans.

Rouhani also recalled how after the revolution, some had objected to female participation in the elections and female anchors sitting next to male anchors during news programs on state television. He said that Iran has now “passed this phase.” Rouhani also said that this view toward women is not unique to Iran, that even in the 20th century in Europe some women were not allowed to attend college or vote. He added that in Iran, “We do not accept feminism, but we also do not accept fanaticism.”

Despite the progress, according to Rouhani, women must now push for their role in society. “Women must themselves enter the arena and show their capacity and capability,” he said.

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