Iran President Rouhani urges equal rights for women

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (second right) at a forum to mark Women's Day in Iran, 20 April 2014 Hassan Rouhani (second from right) made the comments on Iran's Women's Day

Related Stories

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has urged equal opportunities and rights for men and women, and condemned sexual discrimination.

In a speech marking Women's Day, Mr Rouhani criticised "those who consider women's presence society as a threat" and said Iran still had "a long way to go" to ensure gender equality.

Mr Rouhani, a religious moderate, was elected to office in June 2013.

Foreign activist groups argue that Iran's laws discriminate against women.

Speaking on Sunday at the National Forum on Women Shaping Economy and Culture in Tehran, Mr Rouhani said: "We will not accept the culture of sexual discrimination."

Iranian Shiite women gather at the shrine of the Shiite Saint Imam Abdulazim, in Shahr-e-Ray, south of Tehran, Iran, 3 April 2014 Mr Rouhani said women had an 'impressive presence' in all sectors of society

"Women must enjoy equal opportunity, equal protection and equal social rights," he said in comments that were broadcast live on television.

"According to the Islamic rules, man is not the stronger sex and woman is not the weaker one," he said.

'Biggest mistakes'

However, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the highest authority in Iran, said in comments on Saturday that gender equality was "one of the biggest mistakes of the Western thought".

"Justice is a right. But equality is sometimes right and sometimes wrong," he said, according to his personal website.

He added that he did not oppose women's employment, but that it should not conflict with "the main issue", which was women's role in the "family environment and household".

The London-based human rights group Amnesty International said in its 2013 report on Iran that women there "faced discrimination in law and practice in relation to marriage and divorce, inheritance, child custody, nationality and international travel".

In May 2013 a constitutional body in Iran ruled that women could not run in presidential elections. However, women have served as lawmakers in parliament.

In 2012 several Iranian universities introduced rules banning female students from nearly 80 degree courses, drawing criticism from campaigners.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Middle East stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • SkeletonRobot skeleton

    BBC Future discovers how a pair of bionic legs helped get Daniel Fukuchi back on his feet

Programmes

  • Three men solving a puzzleThe Travel Show Watch

    Why tourists are heading to the Hungarian capital Budapest for the chance to break out of a room

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.