Iran’s interior ministry has confirmed reports in a conservative newspaper that instruction was issued to male managers in the government to “preferably” choose male secretaries.
Khorasan newspaper published a report on October 22 saying that based on directives from “important state bodies” advised government officials to segregate workers spaces into male and female sections and employ male secretaries for male managers.
After the news received widespread coverage, the presidential office of women’s affairs denied the report, saying no such directive had been issued.
But the interior ministry later confirmed the directive, clarifying that the source of the regulation was “State Social Council”. The Council is an inter-agency office under the jurisdiction of the President, with the interior minister as his deputy.
The Council consist of 28 members, 16 appointed by the president, two members of parliament, two representatives of the Judiciary and eight members appointed by organizations under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Leader.
During his two election campaigns in 2013 and 2017, President Hassan Rouhani had promised more freedoms and openness in society. Critics say in some respects freedoms have become more restricted.
The interior ministry statement confirming the news adds that women managers have also been advised to appoint female secretaries or office managers.
The statement says the decision was made because working together requires close and continuous interaction and proximity between a secretary and the manager.
The interior ministry says the directive if for “Protection of citizens’ rights and defense of human, Islamic and ethical values”.