A constitutionally influential council in Iran has ruled that women cannot run as candidates for elections in the Islamic Republic of Iran despite thirty women registered as candidates.
A cleric of the Guardian Council announced his decision that a woman is not allowed to be the president of Iran according to the country’s laws. There is much ambiguity with regard to a woman’s election as a president in the Iranian constitution. The cleric has also said that only “rijal” which is the Arabic word for man is allowed to become the president of the country.
The disappointing decision comes a week after two Iranian women publicly announced their candidacies for the presidency in elections on June 14. One was a 45-year-old housewife Razieh Omidvar and Soraya Malekzadeh who is a trained economist and a university professor.
The news of the rejection of the female candidates has (yet again) sparked a debate about the status of women in Iran. The announcement from the clerical member has sort of reaffirmed the fact that women in Iran are, if not oppressed, are not yet allowed to make a significant contribution in the country’s politics. The rejection of the women hopefuls has reignited the debate of the low status the female population holds in Iran.
It’s not as if the Islamic constitution bars a woman from contesting for a position for power. Many women in the history of Islam have enjoyed powerful positions as leaders. And not all Muslim states forbid women to run for top-level leadership. The Islamic Republic of Pakistan allowed late Benazir Bhutto to serve as the Prime Minister of the country.
Although women are allowed to stand for elections to the Iranian parliament and are considered to have greater freedom than women in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, in the 34 years since the Islamic Revolution, no woman has been allowed to run for the presidency and it appears that this year it’s not going to be anything different.