Respect Equality

Women’s groups blast UN after it allows Iran to join women’s rights panel

(ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)

Story at a glance

  • The United Nations elected Iran to the Commission on the Status of Women.
  • The commission is tasked with promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women.
  • Iran has some of the most restrictive laws in the world toward women.

Women’s rights groups are scrutinizing the United Nations (UN) following the election of Iran to a women’s rights committee within the intergovernmental organization.

“We consider the election of the extremely misogynistic regime of Iran as an insult to all Iranian women, the main victims of this regime during the last four decades,” the Association of Iranian Women in France said in a statement, alongside support from their counterparts in Italy and Sweden. “We call on governments, institutions and associations to condemn this decision.”


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The statement comes following the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council appointment of Iran — along with China, Japan, Lebanon and Pakistan — to the Commission on the Status of Women. The commission is tasked with promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women. China and Japan were existing members, and the vote marked their reelection to the commission.

Iran has some of the strictest laws and codes in the world restricting the rights of women. 

Married women cannot obtain passports or leave the country without permission from their husbands. Women who are not married are similarly under the control and supervision of their fathers.

Women cannot go out in public uncovered due to mandatory hijab laws, and those who do face jail time, according to the 2020 World Report by Human Rights Watch.

A 2020 Amnesty International report stated that in Iran, “the authorities failed to criminalize domestic violence, marital rape, early and forced marriage and other gender-based violence against women and girls, which remained widespread.”

Last month, Iran’s U.N. special rapporteur on human rights, Javaid Rehman, said, “Egregious gender-based discrimination persists in law, practice and societal attitudes, disempowering women and girls from participating and contributing in society.”


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