Posted by: bahareiran | November 7, 2010

Iran, Saudi Arabia no champions of women

The Chronicle,  Nov 7 – ONCE again, much-publicized efforts to reform the UN appear nothing more than rhetoric.

In this case, a newly created United Nations agency that supposedly will be devoted to championing women’s rights worldwide seems almost certain to have two of the world’s most regressive regimes — in terms of how they treat women — named to that body’s executive council.

UN Women, the entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women, was created in July to replace four other UN organizations now dealing with ending discrimination against women globally. The new agency will become operational in January.

Unfortunately, however, it appears that Iran and Saudi Arabia will both be named to UN Women’s executive board. Both nations have been nominated, thus far uncontested, to serve three-year terms.

Iran’s constitution defines a woman’s worth as half that of a man. Women’s legal rights are much less than those of men, and by law they are banned from many leadership positions, such as judgeships.

Iran also now faces worldwide revulsion and protests for its barbaric sentencing of 43-year-old Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani to death for adultery. Ashtiani, whose case is under review, was originally to be stoned, though reportedly the regime now plans to hang the woman.

In Saudi Arabia, women’s rights are even more oppressed. Women cannot vote or even drive. All must have a male guardian.

Earlier this fall, the World Economic Forum’s 2010 Global Gender Gap Report was released. Of the 134 countries surveyed, Iran placed 123rd and Saudi Arabia 129th. Each country’s ranking had fallen from where it stood in 2006.

On Nov. 10, the UN Economic and Social Council — of which Canada and the U.S. are among the 54 members — will formally elect the UN Women’s board.

Will either Canada or the U.S. protest Iran’s or Saudi Arabia’s inclusion as guiding forces on a body whose stated goals stand in opposition to their nations’ practices?

We would hope so. Sadly, however, neither opposed Iran’s election to the UN Commission on the Status of Women last spring.


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