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If Iranian women can put themselves forward, U.S. women have no reason not to

(Cross-posted from Heidi Li on Equality, 51 Percent)

Today’s New York Times has a front-page story, above the fold, headlined “Starting at Home, Iran’s fight for Women’s Rights”.  At home in Iran things 13iran_600obtacles to putting women forward are more obvious than they are at home in the United States. In Iran:

Despite the gains they have made, women still face extraordinary obstacles. Girls can legally be forced into marriage at the age of 13. Men have the right to divorce their wives whenever they wish, and are granted custody of any children over the age of 7. Men can ban their wives from working outside the home, and can engage in polygamy.

The article highlights amazing things that can be done by women – and men – determined to resist these signs of pervasive misogyny. Chief among them is the rise in the ratio of women to men in university: “Today, more than 60 percent of university students are women, compared with just over 30 percent in 1982, even though classes are no longer segregated.”

If an officially theocratic state, whose official religion is most definitely patriarchal, can achieve this ratio in higher education, certainly we in the United States can achieve comparable gains in not only in higher education but elsewhere, including especially in the use of smart power to encourage the promotion of human rights around the world.

I recommend not only the full New York Times article, but encourage all to visit the One Million Signatures website, which is font of information about sex discrimination and misogny in Iran; efforts to end this, and host of the One Million signatures petition supporting these changes.

12 Responses

  1. Our women’s “leaders” are NOT leaders anymore….
    Bless the women of IRAN!!!

    American Lassie today takes issue with Larry Summers; the sight of him at a press conference last week got her angry all over again. He’s the poster boy for the attitude toward women that we all struggle against.

    By the way, here in NM…Richardson left a huge amount of money in the budget for an equestrian center up north (and of course there’s the HUGE amount of money AND regressive taxation on the three poorest counties in the south for the SpaceFART)…but CUT the paltry sum (like about $1 million) for more women’s shelter space…this just after a report on the link between domestic abuse and the murder of women here.

    American’ Lassie’s piece is really a boost for women who HAVE battled the forces of power and done GREAT THINGS!! And it shoves it right back at Summers et al!!!

    Lawrence Summers Needs to Study Up on Some Women’s History–Here’s a Short Course He Should Take


  2. PS–a reminder…that case about the man who sold his 14-year old daughter into marriage for $$ and liquor (was it beer? I forget)…well, it’s in the courts, but the thought of it even a happening HERE makes me crazy!!!

    Also…guess who’s looking for $$ for a charter school here in N??? A Muslim group. Now, I detest charter schools in general…and I have nothing against Muslims in general although the status of women is crappy (but it’s not so hot in a lot of Christian faiths, either!)…but I’m now so wary of anything that may promulgate a drift into Sharia Law…it’s happened in Britain and may be on the same path (health care, for example, in the stimulus bill.)

  3. Sorry, charter school funding in New Mexico….(not N)

  4. For a unique (and beautiful) insight into the lives of Iranian women, I strongly strongly recommend the gorgeous Iranian movie “10.” It stars Mania Akbiri, who in real life is a respected Iranian cinematographer/photographer, playing a recently divorced upper-class woman. The movie follows a day and night in her life and 10 conversations that she has during it, including two with her son. (Interestingly, a lot of reviewers found the son irritiating — I adored him.)

    I know that setup sounds boring but trust me, once you start watching it you’ll be transfixed. Akbiri is beautiful and expressive, the scenes of Tehran fascinating, and it’s by critically acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami. I haven’t seen his other movies, alas, but from what I understand this is his most accessible one. A treat, strongly recommended!

  5. Another great post. Strength and blessings to our Iranian sisters.

    Back home on the ranch, everybody’s happy:

    “women now hold more than 49 percent of jobs on the nation’s payrolls. If we cross the 50 percent line — hold the applause — it will be because men are losing their jobs even faster than women.” ….

    “The other dubious part of this “equality” for families is that even if women fill half of the payroll jobs, they don’t bring home half the paychecks. They still earn 78 cents for every male dollar. ….”

    “The optimists watching this social change always hoped that as women picked up paychecks out of the home, men would pick up the slack — and the socks — at home. Men, particularly young men, are doing more. Some are doing it all. But by and large, in the semi-traditional American household men have settled into a pattern. They do more than their fathers did and less than their wives do.” ….

    “The American Time Use Survey offers an interesting wrinkle on relationships in a down economy. When women lose their jobs, they spend twice as much time on child care and housework. When men lose their jobs, they spend the same time. Their hours are spent sleeping, watching TV and job searching.”


  6. In another part of the world, we again see that women’s rights are human rights. Healthy women mean healthy communities:

    “In Ethiopia, which has one of Africa’s highest marriage rates, 19 percent of girls marry by the age of 15. Most are expected to give birth nine months later. At that age, girls are twice as likely to die during childbirth than a woman in her 20s. In Ethiopia, one in 24 women dies during pregnancy or childbirth. Unfortunately, it’s still not acceptable to discuss family planning among adolescents or unmarried women.”

    “There is good news, however. The use of modern contraception in 1,250 villages where CARE works has shot up from 5 percent in 1996 to 30 percent in 2005, well above the national rate of 14 percent. And one taboo has been broken. The mere mention of family planning once got some women beaten with a stick. Now couples are discussing options and the relationship between family size and quality of life.” ….

    “Educating families, providing access to contraceptives and challenging cultural norms will not provide immediate relief. … But when people like Fatuma and her mother are empowered to make informed decisions, fewer lives will hang in the balance each time rain gauges go dry and food prices soar.”

    — Helene Gayle, M.D. President and CEO of CARE; former director of the Gates Foundation’s HIV, TB and Reproductive Health program in Seattle.


  7. BB- from the previous thread.

    I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to come across as thoughtless. I will post later – had bad news this week and am trying to save by dept. from being eliminated in the name of economic downturn. We have six weeks to acheive a goal, although we just finished surpassing the one given to us a few weeks ago. I’ve been on the clock close to 18 hrs. per day, including weekends, and have done two overnights in less than 10 days. My staff needs to keep their jobs.

  8. Thank you for this post, Heidi!

    Smart Power translates to me as WOMAN POWER.

  9. Here’s a really good source for articles on the status of women in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries, and available in English, Spanish, French, and Arabic (note the link may go to the particular article I was reading but the whole site is very info-rich):


  10. As long as American women continue to worship male supremacy, lower their cleavage line and lift their hemline to where it can no longer be lifted, they cannot expect social respect. Baring your body won’t do. It seems as though while increasing their educational level and moving into professions somewhere, while exercizing at fitness centers to “make their body beautiful” and more attractive to their male counterparts they FORGET that they DO have a BRAIN and owe themselves self-respect and dignity. They owe respect to their own gender. REMEMBER what some women, NOW, women in the media, foul mouthed actresses, etc. have done to Hilary and Sarah as well. LUKEWARM FIGHTING FOR EQUALITY FOR WOMEN WON’T DO. I have been in the workforce for 58 years and nothing has changed. There are more women in the professions but they still get 78 cents for every dollar a man makes. Nothing will happen until women (and there are almost 50% of us) organize a STRONG organization and put up a REAL FIGHT for our rights.

  11. Reminds me of PUMAs.

    TC has the best info on feminism, politics, economics and snark.

  12. And of course more wonderful support of women by the media:


    (look out before FauxBama gives this guy a cabinet post!)

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