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MP Denounces Violence, Defends Women’s Rights
People

MP Denounces Violence, Defends Women’s Rights

Fatemeh Alia, parliamentarian and member of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights denounced violence against women and said the bill to protect women has been drafted and is pending Majlis approval.
She referred to the presence of women in the workforce, saying “training policewomen and special advisers are part of the activities undertaken to tap into women’s potential,” IRNA reported.
“The advancement of women in the Islamic Republic despite the imposition of unfair unilateral sanctions - aimed at halting our progress - is still strong,” Alia said. She also hinted at more women candidates for parliamentary elections, saying there has been a steady growth over the years of women.contestants.“Candidacy for women went up from 1.8% in the first Majlis elections (in 1980) to 8.2 in the eighth Majlis race,” she pointed out. “And with more women being listed as nominees, the number is trending upward.”  
Alia who is an MP from Tehran, added that addressing poverty among women and girls is a priority in the national economic policies and these issues are being pursued through the State Welfare Organization (SWO) and the Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation besides programs like the Targeted Subsidy Plan.  

 Human Rights
Alia rejected the allegations made by the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran regarding “discrimination and restrictions in education” and said Iranian women, with inspiration from Islamic teachings as well as Iranian culture, have made great strides both individually and socially with pride and determination. She also quoted the late Imam Khomeni’s words that “It’s from a woman’s lap that man ascends.”
Alia said the total share of women in state medical universities and science majors was 69% last year, adding that 60% of students in prestigious state universities are women - a 99% increase in the last 20 years.
Nearly 226,000 counseling centers in the country are helping women to have better lives and become more aware of their rights. The number of women experts has also risen.
She pointed to women’s achievements in the national Olympiads saying 877 of the top winners in 14 contests were women. Also, the literacy rate between the ages 15-24 was 87.7% in 2012, she noted.

 Participation  
Alia pointed out that women, beside their endeavors to promote family values, are also active in starting NGOs and syndicates. “Apart from their political activities, women have been instrumental in creating political parties, support groups and other community-based organizations,” she said.  
She drew attention to efforts made by the judiciary to promote justice for disabled people, and said the Center to Assist Disabled Children and Women was opened in 2004 in this regard.
She said the first institution to promote women’s roles was established 30 years ago and from there the stage was set for all the three branches of government to give more rights to women. “It’s a constitutional right for men and women to have equal opportunities in employment and participate in the legal process of the country,” Alia said. “That is why we try to uphold the same principles in the Majlis to pass laws that are just and help strengthen individual, social and family values.”

 Progressive Laws
She mentioned laws that have been passed for women saying one such law - Women’s Rights and Responsibilities - has 148 articles and another defending family values has more than 50 articles. As an example, maternity leave for working women has been increased to 9 months and two-week paternity leave has also been granted for men. She said law is also being drafted to reduce the work hours  for women with disabled children less than six years of age.
She rejected the UN Rapporteur’s claims that there is “forced marriage” for women in Iran and said according to Article 3 of the Marriage Law “any forceful  marriage carries a prison sentence and the marriage is declared null and void.” She also said that according to Iranian law “earning family livelihood” is the man’s responsibility, even if the woman is employed.
The MP said political participation in Iran is vibrant for women, which is unheard of in many countries. “While in some countries women are not even allowed to drive, in our country they can even take part in the political process with no hindrance and be elected by popular vote.’’ There are nine female MPs currently in the Majlis and they are mostly active in women’s committees, she added.

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