News / Middle East

Iran's Presidential Candidates Courting Female Vote

Iran's Presidential Candidates Courting Female Votei
June 07, 2013 10:17 AM
Iran is a country of more than 70 million people -- almost half of them women, some of whom play political roles but are barred from running for president. VOA's Jeff Seldin and Shepol Ebnabbasi take a closer look at what role, if any, women will play in deciding Iran's next president in this month's election.
Iran is a country of more than 70 million people - almost half of them women, some of whom play political roles but are barred from running for president.What role will women play in deciding Iran's next president in this month's election?

When Iranians go to the polls on June 14, they will get to select one of eight presidential candidates - all but one older than 50 and all men. Iran's Guardian Council ruled last month a woman cannot be president even though 30 women sought to be included in the race.

That worries Iranian women's rights activists, who say Iran's clerics, led by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, were trying to send a message.

"They think that Iranian women - they should stay at home and it's better they make them more limited than this,” said long-time activist and lawyer Mehrangiz Kar.

But some of the candidates appear to be reaching out to women voters anyway.

When Mohammad Reza Aref, the 61-year-old university professor seen as the leading reformer in the race, registered to run, he did so with his wife.

It quickly drew comparisons to Turkey, where Islamist-leaning Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared in campaigns with his wife. Iran hardliners criticize the husband/wife appearances as "Western."

Still, some of the more conservative candidates have promoted joint appearances with their wives - something current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also did when he was a candidate.

Kar said it means little.

“Sometimes you can see some women beside their husband during elections. It seems something like a propaganda for the men and not for women,” she stated. 

But some analysts say the ability of women to influence the election outcome is not out of the question. They point to Mohammad Khatami’s election in 1997, when he appealed to women and minorities.

In the last presidential election, in 2009, the four final candidates spoke on women's issues.

Analyst Geneive Abdo with the Stimson Center said this election is much different.
“Unlike last time, there are no candidates that are inspiring people,” she noted.

Despite that, a hunger for inspiration, especially among women, seems to linger.

In recent weeks - this video showing former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani during his last campaign - has gone viral on Iran's social media sites.  In it, a young woman criticizes the societal status of Iran's women. The video shows Rafsanjani with tears forming in his eyes.  

But voters cannot choose Rafsanjani this time. The Guardian Council barred his candidacy during its final cut.

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is national security correspondent. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Anonymous
June 08, 2013 4:00 AM
you are always lying. because there a lot of well-educated people ow in Iran.
I love Iran.
In Response

by: Anonymous
June 09, 2013 9:38 AM
well educated in Iran are absolutely away from this isolated reactionary regime . You love your windfall wealth which you have earned illegally ! Not Iran !

by: Anonymous
June 08, 2013 1:51 AM
Surprised this section is able to comment :)... They are afraid someone might do something good for their country. I think a woman in charge of their country would be the best possible thing. Anyone other who is running the show now. They could be a peacefull thriving country with great relations worldwide, but chose a different path. Threatening peace, putting troops in Syria, and weapons, and more... They are on the wrong path and my Iranian friends say the people in Iran are fed up but have no choice...
In Response

by: Anonymous
June 09, 2013 9:43 AM
Yes , The people , the absolute majority , are desperately fed up with this situation but they have no other choice for the time being !

by: solmaz from: ca
June 07, 2013 9:11 AM
I could care less if a woman can or cant run! I don't think women can be good presidents. I want the economy and security fixed.
In Response

by: Anonymous
June 09, 2013 9:53 AM
Economy , security and sovereignty of Iran is in danger with these selected guys and their like minded .... a bunch of None Iranian , None Literate ..... who are not representing Iranians.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs