Rouhani names new fe­male vice pres­i­dents

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani ap­pointed two fe­male vice pres­i­dents yes­ter­day but con­tin­ued to take flak from re­formists for nom­i­nat­ing no women min­is­ters. The ap­point­ments came a day af­ter the mod­er­ate pres­i­dent an­nounced his all-male list of min­is­ters to par­lia­ment, seen as a be­trayal by re­formists who backed his re-elec­tion cam­paign in May. “It is in­cred­i­ble and shock­ing that the pres­i­dent has ig­nored the de­mands of women in nom­i­nat­ing his gov­ern­ment,” Par­vaneh Salahshouri, head of a par­lia­men­tary women’s group, told law­mak­ers.

A let­ter call­ing for fe­male min­is­ters to be ap­pointed was signed by 157 of the 290 MPs. There was small com­fort in the ap­point­ment of two women as vice pres­i­dents, who do not re­quire par­lia­men­tary ap­proval. Mas­soumeh Ebtekar, known in­ter­na­tion­ally for her role as spokesper­son dur­ing the 1980 US em­bassy hostage cri­sis, was named as vice pres­i­dent in charge of women’s af­fairs, hav­ing pre­vi­ously run the en­vi­ron­ment brief in Rouhani’s of­fice.

Laya Joneydi was ap­pointed as the vice pres­i­dent for le­gal af­fairs, while an­other woman, Shahin­dokht Mowlaverdi, was named as a spe­cial ad­viser for cit­i­zens’ rights. Rouhani, a mod­er­ate cleric who had three fe­male vice pres­i­dents dur­ing his pre­vi­ous term, has sev­eral more deputy po­si­tions to fill and it was un­clear if any would go to women.

Un­sur­prised

In an in­ter­view with AFP, the head of the newly formed Re­formist Women’s Party, Zahra Sho­jaei, said she was un­sur­prised by the lack of fe­male min­is­ters given the con­tin­ued op­po­si­tion of many law­mak­ers and pow­er­ful re­li­gious fig­ures be­hind the scenes. A large in­de­pen­dent fac­tion of MPs “are still not in favour of fe­male min­is­ters,” said Sho­jaei. But she said fe­male vice pres­i­dents ac­tu­ally have more power than min­is­ters and have al­ready bro­ken the ta­boo on putting women in po­si­tions of author­ity. “We have gone past the sym­bolic stage. Fe­male min­is­ters are im­por­tant but it’s not our only de­mand. Even if Rouhani had ap­pointed sev­eral women min­is­ters, it would not have solved women’s is­sues,” she said. She high­lighted a num­ber of le­gal is­sues-in­clud­ing the need to gain per­mis­sion from a male rel­a­tive to leave the coun­try, lower lev­els of le­gal com­pen­sa­tion and “blood money” for women, and dis­crim­i­na­tory in­her­i­tance laws — as ar­eas that needed ac­tion.

“Rouhani has worked on poli­cies of em­pow­er­ment for women over the past four years, and we want that to con­tinue, as well as amend­ing laws in par­lia­ment,” she said. The con­tin­ued fraught is­sue of gen­der in Ira­nian pol­i­tics was high­lighted over the week­end, when EU for­eign pol­icy chief Fed­er­ica Mogherini led an all-fe­male team for talks with an all-male Ira­nian con­tin­gent led by For­eign Min­is­ter Mo­ham­mad Javad Zarif. — AFP

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