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Saturday, 2 November, 2002, 16:47 GMT
Iran hires first woman bus driver
Operating Karaj-Tehran route
Iranian women in the driver seat
The first woman bus driver in Iran has begun work on an inter-city route, heralding a new era in a country dominated by men.

Masoumeh Bolaghi, a qualified nurse, began her new career driving between the capital, Tehran, and Karaj, 60 kilometres away.

Ms Bolaghi told the Iranian news agency Irna that her appointment would have a positive effect on women's morale.

"It is expected this move will mark a turning point for the presence of the city's women in various social arenas," she said.

But Ms Bolaghi is not the only professional driver in Iran.

Probably the best known is the country's first woman taxi driver, Zahra Lagarudi.


The wife and children will take our taxi, but the husband has to walk

Cab company owner
She works for the all-women Nesa Taxi Service in the holy city of Qom, which began operating in September - the first company of its kind in the country.

Nesa owner Nayereh Aghaz said she opened her business as a way of promoting women's rights in a society where men held the upper hand.

The company only carries women and boys under 12.

"The wife and children will take our taxi, but the husband has to walk", Ms Aghaz said jokingly.

Equal rights

The significance of an all-female cab company in Qom, a bastion of religious learning, is not lost on its residents.

One cleric, Akbar Torabi, said: "It protects women from the bad looks of male drivers."

Iranian women have worked hard to gain equal rights in recent years.


Men in our religious city should see that women are not only housewives

Zahra Langarudi

The sports authorities recently called on the government to grant women the right to attend football matches.

Women are already permitted to attend volleyball and wrestling competitions, provided they are separated from men.

Women also occupy influential posts in the government and parliament.

Tehran MP Jamileh Kadivar said: "If meritocracy and rule of law are to be held up, men and women must be provided with equal opportunities in all fields."

For taxi driver Zahra Langarudi, driving a taxi "is not a top job, but an achievement by women".

"Men in our religious city should see that women are not only housewives," she added.

Photographs courtesy of tehran24.com.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

03 Mar 99 | Crossing Continents
22 Sep 02 | Media reports
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