Iran denies women participation and decision-making in public life
“Women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life” is the principal theme in 65th meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women in United Nations in March 2021. For this purpose, this subject would be assessed in Iran under the rule of current regime, knowing that the ruling religious fascism in Iran, since its inception, was founded on misogyny, marginalizing women, and turning Iranian women into second-class citizens. In the past 40 years, the Iranian regime, in law and in practice, has imposed an extreme suppression on Iranian women.
In January 2021, according to Transparency International report, in regards to widespread corruption, Iran was ranked 146th out of 180 countries in the world. The widespread corruption leads to more poverty, and in this case due to discriminating rules and policies women are again its first victims.
The annual report on the gender gap of the World Economic Forum ranked Iran 150th out of 156 countries in the world. According to this report Congo, Syria, Pakistan, Iraq, and Yemen are the only countries that have a deeper gender gap than Iran.
Considering the Iranian women’s high spirit of courage and resistance and the high percentage of women among university students and graduates, it is only natural that they face more frustration and pressure given their current situation.
Considering the extent of governmental corruption, and the lack of transparency in governmental reports, the reality is certainly worse.
In addition, it is important to point out that the inhuman management policies of the Iranian regime to fight the Coronavirus has resulted in a situation that 70% of the people unemployed are women workers. This is another factor that contributed to the decline of women in these fields.
Iran denies women participation in political life
According to Nahid Khodakarami, a member of Tehran city council “60% of students passed the universities entrance exams in Iran and most of the university graduates are women, but there is not even a single female minister in the cabinet. Given that the Ministry of Health has the largest population of women with different specialties, there is not even a single woman as a deputy minister.”1
In Iran under the rule of “Velayat-e-Faqih” or absolute clerical rule, the first official of the country is a male cleric who has the absolute political, economic and military power. Velayat-e-Faqih is a life time appointment.
This system has a 45-member Expediency Council and a 13-member Guardian Council as its arms which are entirely made of men and determine the country’s policy above the approach of the law.
In addition, every province and city has a mullah as the representative of the Supreme Leader and Friday prayers Imam who represents and applies the interests and policies of the Supreme Leader.
This is a special kind of dictatorship that generally puts the law and the state in the second place in making political decisions.
Therefore, women’s full and effective participation in these positions are even more meaningless. Keeping these factors into account, this report studies women’s participation in seemingly decision-making positions and in political decision-making responsibilities.
President and the Vice President are both men. According to Iranian regime’s constitution the “President must be a man”.
n In a 34-member cabinet only two women are participating in consultancy positions.
n The head of presidential office, chief of staff, Press Secretary, Secretary of the cabinet, and 19 ministers are all men which means women have no role in ministerial positions.
Rouhani’s government publicizes that this government involves many women in deputies of ministers’ positions, but this participation does not exceed more than 5.5%.
The number of officials in each ministry according to the provided information on their websites including deputies, consultants, and managers of subsidiaries are as presented in Table 1.
The current 11th Parliament of the Iranian regime has 276 members, 260 of whom are men and 16 women. Women comprise 5.7% of the members in the Parliament.
Thirty-one Iranian Governors are all men, which is equal to 0% women participation in Provincial governance.
At the level of Provincial officials of the ruling religious fascism in Iran, out of 1,174 officials there are only 77 women; 31 of these women are the head of the Women and Family Offices of each province. Therefore, even including these ceremonial positions, women comprise less than 7% in the provincial administrative positions.
It is important to point out that these women officials do not represents Iranian women at all. For instance, the governor of Qods town in Tehran province is a criminal woman called Leila Vaseghi. On November 16, 2019, she personally commanded the police force to shoot peaceful protesters, she publicly claimed that she has personally given the orders to shoot the protesters in the November 2019 protests.
The number of officials by gender in each province is listed in Table 2. This data is according to the information provided on their official websites.
Iran denies women participation in Municipalities:
The mayors of 31 cities in provincial capitals are all men. There are only 2 women as mayors out of 339 mayors in Iran. These 2 women run the 302nd and 319th towns in term of their population. In total, women have a share of 0.58%, or about half a percent, of the mayors in Iran.
City officials and governmental organizations in provincial capitals:
This report examines the municipal officials in the provincial capitals as well. In the review of the municipal officials in Iran, deputies, managers of organizations, subsidiaries, and regional managers are all included, based on the available information on the official websites of each city. Summarized information as presented below is obtained from 30 provincial capitals that their official websites were accessible. According to the official websites, out of 830 officials in these 30 cities only 25 were women. This figure is equivalent to 3.11% that indicates the marginal share of women participation in Iranian regime officials even in its fifth tier. It must be noted that even these 25 women work as assistants or consultant in women affairs.
Data is listed in Table 3.
Women participation in city councils that does not have executive power is slightly higher. This report concentrates on provincial capitals. The information is mainly obtained from the official websites of these cities. In summary, there are only 38 women out of 321 members of city councils. Therefore, women participation in this category of political officials is equivalent to 11.83%. Available data for provincial capitals is represented in Table 4.
Iran denies women participation in Economics
In order to obtain an overview of the situation of women’s participation in economic decision-making positions, we have focused on two axes: 1- the head of banks and 2- the head of state-owned companies. The names of the surveyed banks have been selected from the list of banks and financial institutions on the governmental website of Scientific Association of Urban Economics of Iran, and the information of each bank has been extracted from the official website of the same bank.2
Heads and Boards of Directors of Banks:
All 35 well-known banks in Iran are headed by men. Thus, the share of women in this position is 0%. There is only one woman out of 173 members of the boards of directors of banks. This is equal to 0.57% share for women.
The CEO’s and boards of directors of most prominent Iranian companies: For this purpose, a list of 104 companies that are introduced as top 100 companies in 2019-2020, have been considered according to the provided information on the state-run website of Donya-e-Eghtesad.
103 out of 104 companies are headed by men which shows that less than 1% of companies are headed by women. The boards of directors of these companies are also entirely consists of men. Due to the lack of uniformity and transparency of websites we are not going to explore this issue for the time being.
Given the above facts, women’s participation in economic decision-making positions is equal to 0.19% in total.
The dire situation of women’s economic participation in Iran is not just limited to senior management positions. According to reports in winter of 2019, only 3.9 million women out of 30.96 million, merely 12.7% of women over 15 years old were employed.3 This number dropped by 1.2 million in comparison to the previous year.4 By fall of 2020, this number had decreased by another million and twelve thousand individuals.5
75% of the recently unemployed workers due to coronavirus epidemic are women.
Women’s participation in Universities
Considering the percentage of graduated women in Iran, one expects to observe a different situation for women’s participation at least in scientific and academic fields. But with the misogynist laws and policies adopted by the mullah’s regime women are deprived of all opportunities.
Women’s participation in decision making positions in 123 public universities that are ranked on the reference site for Iranian Universities is marginal.6
Among 123 university presidents in Iran, there are only 2 women at this position. Only 1.62% of the university presidents are women.
Among 320 faculties of Universities that declared their managers on their official websites, 314 are men and 6 are women that is only 1.87% share for women.
The reference website for Universities introduces 1,568 men and 64 women as the important scientific people, women constitute a 4% share in this group.
Mansour Gholami, the minister of Science, Research, and Technology approximated women population in Iran’s Universities to be around 50% in December 2020. “33% of faculty members are women”, he claimed.7
This was merely a propaganda announcement. According to the posted information about professors on Rokh Nama website, e.g. for Tehran University there are only 30 women among 469 professors in various majors, which shows a share of 6.4% for women at these positions. 8
Although not all University faculty professors are accessible, the following examples provides an overview on this issue. There are 50 professors in the faculty of law and political science in the same University, where women occupy only 3 seats, i.e. 6%. 9
Amir Kabir polytechnic University faculty includes 644 individuals, where women occupy only 38 seats which is equal to 5.9% share for women.
However, given that most technical, engineering, and military disciplines are banned for women, thus, this figure sharply drops in specific Universities that are devoted to these majors. Therefore, 33% women participation in faculty in different universities as the minister claims is dubious. In another example, the scientific board in Abadan Oil Industry University contains 74 members, 3 of whom are women, which is almost 4% share for women.10
Another example is that the 64 faculty members of the University of Science of Technology in the field of electronics, bioelectronics, power, control, and telecommunication are all men.
1. Marginalization of women, the state-run Hamshahrionline.ir, December 27, 2020
2. Iran Urban Economics Scientific Association, iuea.ir
3. Discrimination in employment has added to problems of working women, the state-run ILNA news agency, March 25, 2020
4. Appraisal of the Plan to Census the Workforce, Iran’s National Statistics Center-Spring 2020, July 26, 2020
5. The Coronavirus cut the population of working women, the state-run Mizanonline.ir, January 30, 2021
6. Reference website for Iranian Universities, uniref.ir
7. Women make up 33% of Iran’s faculty of science, the state-run Student News Network, snn.ir, December 26, 2020
8. Profile- A comprehensive picture of Tehran University’s Scientific Activities, profile.ut.ac.ir
9. Tehran University’s School of Political Law, profile of the faculty, lawpol.ut.ac.ir
10. Website of the Petroleum University of Technology, put.ac.ir