In Iran’s constitution one the conditions for being a president is being one of the “Political Men” (principle 115). There are many debates about this term that if it says women cannot be the president or not. In most debates experts have claimed that this term does not refer to the gender but says the president should be chosen from the ones who are known in politics no matter being a man or woman. However, since the revolution not only Iran have not had any female presidents, but also none of the female candidates have been qualified to enter the presidential election competition. This interview is with one of the women who has fought many years for the right of Iranian women to be a president.
She says until she is alive, she will try to solve the misunderstandings about the 115th principle of constitution. She has spent 40 years of her life for solving the different issues in women’s area. She has been candidate for different presidential elections and in all she has been disqualified. She claimed that the Guardians Council (the council in Iran who decide about qualification of presidential election candidates) never have told her about the reason for her disqualification. Her name was brought up when even her sickness could not stop her for reaching her goals. Azam Taleghani, the 67 years old Ayatollah Taleghani’s daughter in the day of signing up for this year Iran’s presidential election, about her reasons for being a candidate said: “I am here to solve the issue about women’s candidacy in presidential election one time and forever”. For finding her reasons for her singing up for the election and her insisting on her belief we went to her office in Zahir Alsalam. She put our appointment at 10 pm at her office. At one side of her room a photo of Mohammad Mosaddegh was hanged and the on other a photo of Ayatollah Taleghani which are revealing her line of thought. Our discussion started with a delay. This visit was also with some of our other media colleagues. In the following, there are questions which Ghanoon Daily’s journalist proposed.
- You have signed up for different presidential elections’ candidacy for many years to send out your objection against inequality between men and women’s rights. Aren’t you tired of it?
No, in each election I have come to send the voice of women and claimed their equal rights and I just did not sign up in 2009 election which was because of my surgery. On the other hand, my deduction was that the conditions in that election were not usual to ask for a solution for the issue about interpreting the phrase of “Political Men” in 115th principle of constitution.
- You were following your own ideal for solving this issue. Can we assume that in 2009 you stopped purposing this issue or ignored it?
No, priorities are different in every situation. Now, this priority has come up to address this problem. We did our job and as long as I am alive I will follow up solving the issue of 115th principle.
- How much have you achieved your ideals about women after the revolution?
We were always following up these issues and we can see many women are seeking their equal rights to men. Anyway, one day this problem should be solved in our country, and in my opinion solving such problems needs increasing the awareness which we have been closed to it.
- It seems solving this problem needs basal followings. Were there any objections against this issue from the beginning and at the moment of approval of the constitution?
At that time Ms. Gorji was the only woman who was a member of the Council of Experts for Constitution. When I read the reports of the council, I found out that Ms. Gorji also opposed to this phrase of “political men”. However, it is essential that some points be referred here. In the draft of constitution it were not any points about the gender of president and it brought up some discussions at that time. After that, they brought the draft to references. Ayatollah Golpayegany had said: “if I became the Sheykh Fazollah Noori I won’t let the women to be the president”. After this opposition, some problems happened to the Council of Experts. Eventually, the members of the council proposed the phrase of “Political Men” which by itself was a problem (the word “Men” in “Political Men” is in Arabic not Persian).
- Which problem?
I have referred in details to this problem in Hajar Magazine in 1997. Its summary is that the written and spoken language of our country is Persian. Our constitutional is also in Persian. We cannot bring an Arabic phrase from Arabic to Persian and then try to translate and interpret it. It is completely nonsense. We can just bring expressional meanings. I can remember that at that time Shahid Beheshti – whom I think was the one who proposed this phrase- was asked about it in TV that what they meant by “Men in Arabic”. In response, he said it means political experts. I was a witness of this interview, and I wrote down this sentence, and I have memorized his sentence in my mind until now, and I am sure that using this phrase was for ending the disagreements in the Council of Experts for Constitution not for limiting the presidency to men.
- But many people who interpret this phrase as males, believe that its root is in Quran and their interpretation in Quran.
For proofing that the opinion of Quran is not this I have done researches in Quran about this Arabic phrase. It has been used 16 times in Quran which 3 of them as a symmetry in sentence are referring to men, but the rest refer to experts and thoughtful people. Once I went to population conference in Cairo and asked Ayatollah Taskhiri about this issue. He said when Quran is telling us “so, the people of Zekr ask” it means that in the interpretation it cannot be said that men ask but women do not. Therefore, no gender is proposing here.
- Since the revolution until now you have been following up women’s issues in different areas. Which government’s performance in women’s area have you found favorable?
There was a woman in United Nations who had some responsibilities and was guiding us to how working scientifically. She came to Iran and we planned a visit with her and we found out we need an organization for women. This issue was proposed and in the following we wrote a letter to Ayatollah Hashemi who was the president at that time. In that letter we asked him to help us in establishing a women’s organization. At once, he chose Ms. Habibi who was one of the Fatemeh Hashemi’s colleagues as the responsible person for following up the civil organization of women. In this regard, we saw that Ms. Habibi did many things.
- Do you mean that you believe Mr. Hashemi’s government was the best in the women’s area?
Yes, because we did not have such activities and in my opinion, establishing women’s organization was an important event in this area.
- How did you find the Mr. Rouhani’s government performance in women’s area?
Ms. Molaverdi is working well as the president consultant in women and families’ affairs. I know her. She does her job in quiet and serene and in her way she has done many proceedings.
Published on 20.04.2017, Ghanoon Daily