Concerns raised that Hassan Rouhani may unveil all-male listing of ministers responsible for in cabinet reshuffle as he prepares for second term
Irans chairwoman is under pressure to appoint female pastors as he mulls a cabinet reshuffle before his swearing-in rite on Sunday.
Hassan Rouhanis all-male list of ministers during his first word in office dismayed his base even though the moderate clergyman appointed a number of women as vice-president, a comparatively less senior position in Irans political hierarchy.
As jockeying intensifies before the unveiling of his new cabinet, fears have grown that Rouhani may give in to pressure from hardliners and not include females as pastors. Expectation is particularly high because he operated on a reformist agenda. Under the Iranian constitution, the Majlis( parliament ), would have to approve his appointees.
Tehran is preparing for a big inauguration ceremony after Rouhanis landslide victory in May. Officers have declared Sunday a bank holiday as eight presidents and senior diplomatic delegations gather in the Iranian capital to mark the beginning of his second term in office. In a sign of thawing relations, the UK is for the first time sending a minister of state, Alistair Burt, who is in charge of the Middle East and North Africa at the Foreign office.
Despite shortcomings, one existing Rouhani appointee his vice-president for women and family affairs, Shahindokht Molaverdi has won the support of some of the countrys most respected womens rights campaigners. Her hands have largely been tied in the past four years as she came under huge pressure from hardliners, who threatened her with prosecution.
Molaverdi said in April that as many as three women would be appointed as ministers but she has voiced pessimistic more recently and it is not clear if she would maintain her job.
Mohammad Bagher Nobakht, the Rouhani administrations spokesman, said on Tuesday, that the number of women in the cabinet would not go down, the semi-official Isna news agency reported, but he sent mixed signals over ministerial appointments, suggesting there may not be any females as pastors at all.
If there would be no females pastors in the cabinet, that does not mean were not utilizing the potential of women[ in the government ], he said. Women will still play a significant role. Its an injustice to girls to think that they should only be used to fill ministerial roles.
The taboo of appointing female pastors after the 1979 Islamic revolution has in fact already been broken. In 2009, former hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad nominated three women as ministers amid opponent from conservative MPs and some senior clerics. One of his appointees, Marzieh Vahid-Dastjerdi, was approved and she became the countrys first post-revolutionary female minister, serving as health ministers and medical education.
Ghoncheh Ghavami, a resulting womens rights activist based in Tehran, said it is much more important to have gender-sensitive and feminist policies than just merely relying on descriptive representation but nevertheless having female pastors is still important because Irans political system is too male-oriented.
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