Iran UN women's committee membership an 'insult': activists

Iran UN women's committee membership an 'insult': activists
2 min read
Activist groups have expressed outrage following news that Iran has been elected to a UN committee on women’s rights.
The UN committee works to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women [Getty]

The election this week of Iran to a UN committee on women's rights is an "insult" to women who suffer daily discrimination in the Islamic republic, groups representing Iranian women outside the country said Friday.

Iran was elected Thursday to a four-year mandate along with six other countries to the New York-based UN Commission on the Status of Women, which works to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women.

But activists said that the move was unwarranted for a country that notably obliges all women to wear the Muslim headscarf in public.

"We consider the election of the extremely misogynistic regime of Iran as an insult to all Iranian women, the main victims of this regime during the last four decades," said the Association of Iranian Women in France (AFIF) and their counterparts in Italy and Sweden in a statement.

"We call on governments, institutions and associations to condemn this decision," they added.

They pointed to the March report by Javaid Rehman, the UN's special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, which was highly critical of the situation of women in Iran.

While some positive steps such as in education were recognised in his report, Rehman said "egregious gender-based discrimination persists in law, practice and societal attitudes, disempowering women and girls from participating and contributing in society."

He urged action to end child marriages and practices where permission from fathers or husbands is required for a range of actions "that should be the woman's own choice".

Tehran insists that women are given full rights in the country, noting that their presence in professions such as medicine, engineering and also politics is far more prominent than in other regional states such as Saudi Arabia.

Iran has arrested and prosecuted women who took part in a civil disobedience campaign to remove the obligatory headscarf in public, while prize-winning lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh who defended their cases is serving a prison sentence.

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Masih Alinejad, a US-based activist who founded the My Stealthy Freedom movement that encouraged women to remove their hijabs, said the naming of Iran to the commission was an "insult" to those women arrested.

"A regime that does not allow women to make decisions for their own bodies has been elected to a body to monitor the condition of women around the world," she told the Swedish parliament in a video statement.

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