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Official Says No Governorship For Iranian Women

Esmaeil Jabbarzadeh

Iranian women have apparently lost another chance to take a high-profile job.

“The list of Iran’s new governor-generals is going to be announced before the end of the month”, the Interior Ministry’s deputy for Political Affairs, Esmaeil Jabbarzadeh said.

But responding to a question about women’s on the list, Jabbarzadeh noted, “No women are on the list of options for serving as governor-general, so far. Therefore, we are probably not going to have a female governor”.

For years and especially after President Hassan Rouhani’s re-election, women rights activists and even many MPs have called upon successive presidents to employ more female candidates for serving at high level jobs.

A month before last May's presidential election, in a letter addressed to President Hassan Rouhani and read in parliament’s open session, 175 MPs called upon the incumbent to appoint “competent and merited” women as ministers in the next cabinet.

Meanwhile, Iran’s Supreme Administrative Council approved a resolution that commits the government to appoint women in 30% of the national managerial posts.

Nevertheless, in nearly four decades after the end of monarchy, Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi is still the only Iranian woman who has ever had a ministerial portfolio.

For the first time in post revolution Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadnejad nominated three women as cabinet ministers in his second term. Parliament approved only one of them, Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi, then 49, as Minister of Health and Medical Education (2009-2013).

However, Iran is one of the first countries in the region to have appointed women as cabinet ministers. Farrokhroo Parsa, was an Iranian physician, educator and parliamentarian as well as the first female cabinet minister. She served as Minister of Education from 1968-1971. After the 1979 revolution, she was accused of ambiguous charges by an Islamic revolutionary court and later executed by a firing squad.

Meanwhile, Hassan Rouhani is the only president who has never missed a chance to promise employing women for high capacity jobs, but he has never nominated a female minister.

“I wanted to nominate three ladies for serving in my new cabinet and I had even pinpointed their portfolios but, at the end of the day, I found out that it can’t be done”, Rouhani lamented, adding, “Why? I leave the answer to sometime in the future”.

Earlier, Rouhani had promised to establish a new ministry for Women’s Affairs but, it also remained unfulfilled.

So far, Rouhani has appointed two female deputies, Masoumeh Ebtekar for Women and Family Affairs and Laya Joneydi for Legal Affairs while another woman, Shahindokht Molaverdi is serving as president’s assistant for Citizens’ Rights.

As of July 2009, there are 12 Deputy Presidents in Iran. The First Deputy President is the most important as he or she leads cabinet meetings in the absence of the president. None of the deputies appointed need parliamentary approval.