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Rouhani Order For More Women In Top Posts ‘Ignored’

Women constituted a large part of Hassan Rouhani's support during the May 2017 presidential presidential campaign.
Women constituted a large part of Hassan Rouhani's support during the May 2017 presidential presidential campaign.

A member of the women's faction in the Iranian Parliament says only 17 percent of managerial positions in Iran are held by women and that President Hassan Rouhani's order to appoint women to 30 percent of managerial posts has been ignored.

Speaking to the parliament's official site, Khane-ye Mellat (the Nation's House), Fatemeh Zolghadr says that despite their efforts, Rouhani's order has been overlooked.

Although Zolghadr did not list the reasons for the order being ignored, Rouhani's deputy for women and family affairs, Masoumeh Ebtekar, recently announced that there are still "sensitivities" and "religious ambiguities" concerning women's service in some positions.

"There are glass ceilings" that prevent Iranian women from certain appointments, Ebtekar argued, adding that "one cannot explicitly say that employing women to serve in these positions is banned or allowed by religious regulations."

Referring to her managerial experience, Ebtekar said, "When I was first appointed deputy president during Mohammad Khatami's pro-reform cabinet [1997-2005], there was a religious debate over its credibility, but none of the [Shi'ite] jurists said the appointment was against Shari'a (Islamic law)."

Nearly four decades ago, before the Islamic Revolution, the appointment of women as ministers and judges in Iran was a generally accepted practice.

Iran was one of the first countries in the region to appoint a woman as a cabinet minister. Farrokhroo Parsa was an Iranian physician, educator, and parliamentarian as well as the first female cabinet minister under the shah, from 1968 to 1971.

After the 1979 revolution, she was accused of ambiguous charges by an Islamic Revolutionary Court and later executed by firing squad.

Nevertheless, in past decades, Iranian women have been banned from serving as judges, while only one woman, Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi, succeeded in serving as minister -- health and medical education minister (2009-2013) under conservative President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

Although Rouhani has repeatedly promised to allocate higher positions to women, he has preferred to keep them out of his cabinet so far.

Rouhani, a relative moderate, won re-election in May 2017 with the support of reformists and women after vowing to improve civil liberties and rebuild ties with the West.

Nevertheless, Rouhani made it clear after the elections that he was not going to appoint women for high-level, ministerial positions, “Appointing women to serve in key positions should be done in a step-by-step manner,” he said on June 24, 2017.

There are discriminatory approaches against women serving in high managerial positions, Zolghadr says, adding, "The statistics show that only 17% of managerial positions are occupied by women."

Zolghadr says Iranian women's share in the country's job market is only 16 percent, which is quite low compared with other countries.

"The share of Iranian women in the national job market is so low and indefensible since 63 percent of university lecturers are women," Zolghadr says, calling upon Rouhani's deputy in women’s and family affairs to look into the matter.

According to Zolghadr, one of the main barriers for women is a "petty culture" that should be changed.

Rouhani asked his ministers on December 12 to give more management positions to youth, women, and people from ethnic groups.

“One of the promises that I made during my campaign was…giving management positions to them,” Rouhani's official site,, reported.

“The other promise I made was taking advantage of young people in management positions,” he added.

“I have always urged all ministers and deputy presidents to choose at least some of their deputies and advisers from women, young people, and different ethnic groups; this has been stressed by me and I emphasize this again to governors-general,” he continued.

No woman currently holds a ministerial role, but Rouhani appointed three women as members of his cabinet, two as deputy presidents and one as his assistant, reported the government's official daily, Iran.