Iran is a land of many tales--of ancient folklore, and of modern stories so outrageous, no human being could be creative enough to even make them up.
Last week, Iranian born and educated Maryam Mirzakhani became the first woman in history to win the world's most prestigious prize in Mathematics, the Fields Medal. This victory, for both women and Iranians, as well as Iranian women, comes against the backdrop of a far more sobering reality for women still in Iran.
A recent report by Arash Karami stated that the Tehran Municipality had fired a number of women from their jobs with the city, for "their own well being." His report cited an official who stated that, "Secretarial work and office management is time consuming and lengthy, and for the comfort and well-being of women, this decision was adopted that the office manager and secretary be a gentleman."
Not only is it oppressive and regressive that the Tehran Municipality is dictating to women what is good for their "well-being," which violates their individual rights, is clear case of gender inequality and is simply offensive, but it is part of a more alarming trend at the behest of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei--and something President Rouhani couldn't change, even if he wanted to. Gender Segregation is the new language of the Regime, as Iranian-people seek more and more Western liberties and ideals, and grasp the understanding that Women's Rights is Human Rights.
Gender Segregation and apartheid is one of the issues that the International Labor Organization (ILO) began discussing at establishment. Interestingly enough, Iran, at the time was under the Shah's reign, was one of the ILO's founding members, and thus signed on to uphold and pursue gender equality in the workplace. Considering Iran's brain-drain (Mirzakhani, for example) and news of women being fired for their 'own good,' I'd say the Regime isn't doing its job, and fulfilling its promise to the ILO" and its responsibility to its people.
So what's next? Do those of us who love Iran just allow the Regime to get away with this--with demoting women because of their own outdated beliefs? Or do we stand up and do something? I say the latter. Join me, and other human rights activists (who also know a good economy has a strong female presence in the work force) in the #IranOutOfILO Campaign which will encourage the Regime to either uphold the ILO treaty, or risk being kicked out. Child labor in Iran is also a violation that the campaign discusses; another reason this campaign is crucial to the future of Iran. Learn more here, through the Share the Campaign website, and sign the petition here !
Let's get more women in Maryam Mirzakhani's shoes!