Merit, Not Gender, Should Be the Barometer

Merit, Not Gender,  Should Be the Barometer Merit, Not Gender,  Should Be the Barometer

Ezzat Kamalzadeh was appointed governor of Qeshm Island, Hormozgan Province last April. She is the fourth female governor to be appointed under the administration of President Hassan Rouhani.

Earlier, Masoumeh Parandvar, Hamun governor (South Khorasan Province), Homeira Rigi, governor of Sistan-Baluchestan Province and Marjan Nazgholichi, governor of Bandar Torkaman (Golestan Province), were nominated by Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, the Persian language newspaper ‘Etemad’ reported.

Kamalzadeh told the newspaper that 14 years ago she was the prefect of a central district in Iran’s Qeshm Island, the largest island in the Persian Gulf for several years. Under the incumbent government she reached the gubernatorial position.

“I believe that gender shouldn’t matter if they are qualified for the job,” she said.

Pointing to her plans for the tourist island she said, “I want to increase space for recreational activities as this can help young people learn important life lessons like competitiveness and hard work. Sports also can boost young people’s morale and protect them from social ills.”

Qeshm Island has the capacity to become a leading destination for sports tourism. The coastal regions of the island are unique. There are countries that build artificial islands to increase space for beach sports, but “we are fortunate to have natural, beautiful islands such as Qeshm.”

In response to a question as to why the authorities haven’t done a stellar job to fully use and develop the island’s capacity, she said the region is special. As Qeshm Island is a free zone (foreigners need no visa for entry), most of its responsibility has been assigned to the Qeshm Free Zone Organization. “Therefore we cannot do much in this respect.”

“When I was prefect, I strived to open a swimming area along the coast for women. Before that, there was no swimming area for women.”

Despite the opposition, the ‘Simin’ swimming space for the National Women Lifeguard Championships was built and when the championships came to end, the place was designated as women’s swimming area.

 Weekly Public Meetings

“I am making every effort to resolve people’s grievances by visiting the island’s rural areas regularly.” On Tuesdays, we have public meetings where residents raise their problems.

She pointed to the need for women’s participation in political and economic activities and said lack of women’s participation has led to “the piling up of wealth in men’s accounts” much to the disadvantage of women. “This is while women have made significant gains in education and outpaced men,” she told the newspaper referring to the impressive and verifiable progress of women in academia and the workplace over four decades.

On the need to consider higher employment quotas for women in state and affiliated organizations to address gender discrimination, Kamalzadeh said this too is a form of discrimination as women and men with equal qualifications should have equal opportunity for important state positions.

“Women should be selected on merit, not employment quota; therefore if the principle is respected, the gap between the number of men and women in important government posts will naturally reduce.” But many organizations don’t uphold such principles.