Rouhani Contradicts the Supreme Leader on Women’s Rights

If you take a look at Rouhani’s speech today, it might not seem very brave or anything special, indeed he talks very cautiously, as he should. But in the context of Iranian politics this is a big deal because it contradicts what the Supreme Leader said yesterday, even if to a small degree, and that is very important, showing that Rouhani will continue to do his best in spite of things. Sadly most of the western outlets have chosen a headline that distorts what he really had said and its significance in the context. Via Tehran Times, which doesn’t distort what he said:

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says the country will not achieve progress unless due attention is given to women, though he acknowledged that there are still many shortcomings in regard to the issue of women’s rights.

“Moderation, prudence, and hope will not be established in the country without women’s contribution,” Rouhani told a gathering of women professionals in Tehran on Sunday, which was the anniversary of the birth of Hazrat Fatima (SA), the daughter of Prophet Muhammad (S), and which is also Women’s Day in Iran.
Rouhani said that according to the tenets of Islam, neither is man the first gender, nor is woman the second gender. “Man and woman are not the opposite of each other. Women are side by side with men and have the same human dignity and position.”
He went on to say that women have suffered cruelty in previous eras and in the modern era, though concrete steps have been taken since the victory of the Islamic Revolution to improve women’s condition in Iran.
The Iranian president rhetorically asked why “some people think the presence of women is a threat,” adding that efforts should be made to ensure that women feel safe in society, in the street, and everywhere else.
“Is it possible to put [women] in a corner and sideline the role of half of the society? Women should enjoy equal opportunities, security, and social rights,” he said.
“We will not accept the culture of gender discrimination, especially against women,” Rouhani added.
I still don’t think anything major will happen soon. Rouhani cannot do anything without sanction from Khamenei. But it is still good to see that he is on the case.
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