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Women and Revolution in Iran

June 18, 2009

Dana Goldstein at The Daily Beast discusses an important piece of the Mousavi movement’s challenge to Ahmadinejad: the role women are playing, and have played, in Iranian political life. An excerpt:

But by almost every measure, the Ahmadinejad era has represented a leap backward for Iranian women, leading to a resurgence of feminist organizing. “I wouldn’t say the election was a turning point for women,” says Sanam Anderlini, a Washington-based consultant on international women’s issues. “But I would say women were the turning point for the election.”
Female voters provided key support for Mousavi, who campaigned on a platform of expanding women’s economic and legal rights, yet who was hardly known as a feminist champion during a term as prime minister from 1981 to 1989. The far more salient factor was Ahmadinejad’s dismal record on women’s rights. Working with a conservative parliament, his government spent millions on propaganda telling women their proper place is in the home. Universities capped the number of female students admitted. In 2005, the regime launched a “culture of modesty” campaign aimed at enforcing stricter veiling. It replaced the Center for Women’s Participation, founded under the liberal presidency of Mohammad Khatami, with the Center for Women and Family, whose exclusive goal is to promote “modesty.”

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