Khamenei Wants Women At Home
The perception of women’s role in society in Iran seems to be yet another battleground between elected President Rouhani and Supreme Leader Khamenei. Following the international “Women’s Day”, Khamenei shared his thoughts on women which leave no room for doubt as to Khamenei’s roots in the Islamic Revolution.
In order for the “issue of women to be healthy, logical and precise,” Khamenei advised that it is necessary to “empty our minds of this talk that Westerners say about women, [such as] about employment, about management, about gender equality”. Deeming gender equality “One of the biggest intellectual mistakes of the West” he questioned the validity of giving a “masculine job” to women adding his disappointment that women would actually want a “masculine” job.
Women, according to Khamenei, should remain home-makers and suffice themselves to being “the source of peace for the man and…for the children”. Women should stay at home because “a woman who is humiliated, who is insulted, who has pressure of work, cannot be a housewife, cannot be the manager of the house.”
Rouhani Wants Equality for Women
Only one day after Khamenei’s speech, Rouhani offered his own vision of women in Iran which differs starkly from that of his Supreme Leader: “We will not accept the culture of sexual discrimination…Women must enjoy equal opportunity, equal protection and equal social rights”.
Without mentioning Khamenei, Rouhani made it a point to speak about women’s rights to employment: “We have a long road ahead to reach our goal. Valuable steps have been taken for women to have a presence in the fields of science, schooling, work, employment”. He later took a less veiled stab at Khamenei ‘s views: “This talk is true that the home is the foundation for society, and reform begins in the home, but if we ignore half of the population of the country, we will not see real development and growth in that country… Is it even possible to marginalize 50% of the members of society?”.
Finally, Rouhani took away Khamenei’s basis by undermining the religious basis for discrimination against women: “Those who are scared of women’s presence and excellence, or have other views, are asked to please not attribute these wrong views toward religion, Islam, and the Quran”.
Unfortunately, in the short-run, Rouhani needs Khamenei more than Khamenei needs Rouhani. Rouhani can find himself under house arrest with Tehran’s opposition leaders at Khamenei’s whim and was curtly reminded of exactly this by the head of Parliament himself, Ali Larijani.