One Step Away from Legalizing Women’s Candidacy for President

Tuesday 17 March 2009

Translated by: Shabnam Ghafourian

Bamdad News: "According to a Parliament approved bill, women can run for office of the presidency. I am confident that the State Expediency Council will approve this bill,” said Maryam Behroozi, chairwoman of Zeinab Society, in an interview with Hammihan newspaper.

The bill is currently under review by the State Expediency Council. Behroozi added, "If the Council approves the bill, Zeinab Society will discuss the possibility of introducing women candidates for the coming June presidential elections."

Parliament conducted a comprehensive review of the presidential election bill and proposed several other reforms, including the requirement that candidates hold at least a master’s degree, or its religious seminary equivalent, and must have relevant professional experience, as previously defined. Parliament also restricted the age of candidates to between 40 and 75 years.

Behroozi sees approval of the bill as a path for women’s candidature. Women’s presidential candidature has been forbidden due to a legal interpretation of the term, “rejal,” a qualification for candidacy, as applying to only men. Behroozi says the term refers to a person’s political and religious competence without regard to gender. She says that there has been controversy about the issue in the past.

For example, fundamentalist women were examining the possibilities of introducing a woman candidate several days earlier. About the rumored candidacy of Zahra Rahnavard, Behroozi said, "We are currently investigating the issue of women’s participation in the office of the presidency.

If the bill is approved, we will look for a suitable person." Azam Taleqani, chairwoman of the Women’s Islamic Society, welcomed the bill’s possible approval by the State Expediency Council. She told Hammihan, ”Interpreting the term “rejal” in a manner that allows women’s candidature had been proposed by the Sixth Parliament as well. Why did the Council reject the bill then, only to consider its approval now? The Council’s membership hasn’t changed. Has there been a change in opinion or was it not approved then because the reformists were in power?"

The daughter of Ayatollah Taleqani believes that if the bill is approved, women’s human rights will be considered more seriously and they will be treated the same as men.

She rejects the likelihood of Zahra Rahnavard’s candidature but adds, "If Zahra Rahnavard becomes a candidate we should welcome her." Earlier, several political personalities, in particular reformist women, had proposed that Zahra Rahnavard or Zahra Eshraqi be nominated to head a reformist coalition.

This proposal was based on the idea that Khatami, Karoubi and Mir Hossein Mosavi would not run for office and was intended to unite the reformists under one coalition and put an end to the prohibition of women as executive branch leaders.


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