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Iran: The stuggle for changeIran: The struggle for change

Women and society Women and society

In 1997 Iran's women voted in their millions for reformist President Mohammad Khatami. He in turn encouraged them to play a bigger role in politics.

Iranian women were given the vote in 1962 and are allowed to stand in elections. Women candidates did well in last year's local elections - the first since the revolution - with President Khatami's sister Fatemeh and his former adviser Jamileh Kadivar among the winners. Two women have put themselves forward as presidential candidates in June's elections, and one is seeking election to the Assembly of Experts, the conservative dominated body that is meant to supervise the Supreme Leader. Many Iranian women are well educated and in recent years more girls than boys have passed university entrance exams.

Since the revolution, the Iranian clergy has stressed the traditional family role of women. The majority of traditional clerics still believe men are superior and there are many inequalities under Iran's Islamic law. Mr Khatami, however, has said that according to Islam men and women are equal.

In 1999 a senior cleric, Ayatollah Yosef Sanei, made headlines when he said there should be nothing to stop a woman becoming the Supreme Leader or president. He also said it was wrong not to allow women to become judges or to accept them as full witnesses in courts. There were women judges before the revolution, but they were removed in 1979. In recent years they have been brought back, but only in an advisory capacity. Laws have recently been passed allowing women to join the police force and women are now even allowed to attend and play football, the fanatically-supported national sport.

Iran's changing face
Democracy and reform
The role of youth
Women and society
Relations with the West
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