Women MPs’ Aspirations

Women MPs’ AspirationsWomen MPs’ Aspirations

The 10th parliamentary elections in Iran held on February 26 have yielded significant victory for women. A total of 14 women have so far secured seats in the Majlis.

The unprecedented number of women (which may increase after the second round of elections, the date for which is yet to be announced) in the next parliament will provide opportunities to the new members to push for change and promote women’s rights and concerns in the society, reports Khabaronline.

A record number of women registered as candidates for the elections. Out of the over 6,200 contestants who were approved by the Guardian Council, 586 were women.

The youngest female MP is 30-year old Seyedeh Fatemeh Hosseini from Tehran. A doctoral student in finance at the University of Tehran, her election platform was “to advance the voices of her generation and advocate their concerns to policy-makers.”

She plans to focus on employment opportunities for women.

“Today, 45% of young women between the ages of 20-24 are unemployed. This shows the unequal employment opportunities for young women, which must be changed.”

Unemployment among young Iranian men is far less when compared to joblessness among young women. According to the Statistical Center of Iran, the economic activity rate of population aged 10 and over stood at 13.3% for women and 62.9% for men while the unemployment rate was 19.2 % and 9% respectively in spring 2015.

  Civil Society Activist

Tayyebeh Siavoshi is one of the eight women elected from Tehran. She has worked in the Foreign Ministry and led efforts to get women involved in international organizations. She has also been a civil society activist for years focusing on women and children’s rights.

Another new parliamentarian from Tehran, Parvaneh Salahshouri, expressed great hope for the incoming parliament in a video interview after the elections with the Italian ‘Corriere della Sera’ newspaper.

“The election results represent a good step towards women’s concerns,” she said, pointing out that there are only nine women among a total of 290 lawmakers in the outgoing parliament.

Asked whether the new female lawmakers will make a difference for women’s issues in the country, Salahshouri responded “Of course!” and pledged that they would all work to better the lives of women, including drawing parliament’s attention to violence against women.

Parvaneh Mafi, 58, another MP elected from Tehran, has a master’s degree in management and has served in the Interior Ministry. She is a member of the Central Council for Islamic Republic’s Society for Women, as well as the Central Council for the Party for Executives of Construction, and one of the experts at the Secretariat of the Commission on Macroeconomics in the Expediency Council. Mafi also wants to draw attention towards violence against women.

In a recent interview with Azad University News Agency (ANA), she said her proposals would include “reviews and revisions to discriminatory rules against women.”

“The next step would be to devise laws concerning violence against women, verbal abuse in particular,” she said, as reported by the online portal of the Vice Presidency for Women and Family Affairs.

  Creating Jobs

She further said she would strive to remove gender-based quotas, including in jobs and university entrance exams, adding that creating jobs for girls after graduation is high on her agenda.

“That does not mean that men’s employment is not important to us; our major priority is to boost employment for both genders equally,” she stressed.

“We need to address and resolve the economic problems our youth are facing to bring back hope and peace of mind among the youth, and that is one of the items on our agenda in the 10th parliament.”

It is noteworthy that the newly-elected women MPs come from various academic backgrounds that will enable them to serve on the different Majlis committees to implement the goals of the much-anticipated Sixth Five-Year Economic Development Plan (March 2016-2021).