A female activist says political parties in Iran are dominated by men and should do more to give women a bigger role to play in their ranks.
Azar Mansouri, the vice-president of Iran’s largest reformist party, the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF) says any political grouping that fails to pay attention to gender equality and the question of women’s empowerment will definitely fall into disfavor with women who account for almost half of the country’s population.
Ebtekar Newspaper quoted Ms. Mansouri in its September 7, 2014 issue as saying that involvement in politics is a masculine phenomenon in Iran and cannot be compared with developed nations.
She further said during the final year of the Reformist government’s term in office [a decade ago], a plan was introduced by President Khatami’s government requiring all executive institutions to present a one-year plan to empower women and administer gender equality.
The reformist political activist further said over the past decade, certain parties have tried to fill the void created by the absence of women [on the political stage]. They have strived to create a non-masculine structure in parliament and other democratic institutions. Creation of an agency which focuses on women’s affairs and/or bringing women on board in the upper echelons of parties are among measures which can fill the existing gap.
Mansouri went on to stress that parties have a decisive and influential role to play when it comes to gender equality, saying if parties, especially the reformists, can make proper planning for women’s presence in elections and enforce gender-based equality mechanisms, women can be expected to claim some twenty percent of parliament seats in the coming elections.
This, however, has nothing to do with the better performance of female MPs and with where they stand on political issues, she added.
One decade has passed since parties started to think about boosting women’s involvement in political affairs, she said, adding before that parties seemed to lack a distinct plan for women’s participation in politics.
Given the fact that female activists have struggled to be given a [bigger] share in political issues, parties have done what they could to bridge the current gap.
In doing so, no remarkable difference can be seen between Reformists and Principlists, because just like their Reformist counterparts Principlists pay heed to the political involvement of women.
When the makeup of Iran’s parliament is compared with that of the National Assembly in Afghanistan, women are conspicuous by their absence in the legislative branch in Iran where their share of parliamentary seats is less than four percent.
Political groups seem to have reached a consensus on changing the status of women’s representation in parliament, Mansouri said, adding that Reformist parties have to take this question into account. But there is no denying the fact that the Reformist discourse has always supported women’s political involvement in the power structure.
Thanks to their development-based attitude, Reformists are fundamentally in favor of creating equal opportunities for all members of the public. So they put emphasis on the role women play in decision making and planning processes, something which is clearly evident in the Fourth National Development Plan which was put together when Reformists were in power, she concluded.