Gender Segregation Gains Momentum in Iran: Women Prohibited from More Jobs
The accelerated efforts to restrict women’s access to jobs, professions, and public venues continue in Iran. In the latest announcement, Colonel Khalil Helali, Head of the Public Buildings Office of the Iranian Police, said on August 30, 2014, that henceforth women are not allowed employment in coffee shops, coffee houses, and traditional Iranian restaurants. No laws or reasons were cited as the basis for the decision to bar women from having such jobs.
Shargh Daily also reported on September 2, 2014, that women are now banned from appearing on stage at musical performances in 13 provinces across the country. Only bands without any female members will be granted the required performance license, according to the report.
In an interview with ISCA News, which is affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Azad University, prominent Iranian musician Hossein Alizadeh said on August 28 that a continuation of such practices will lead to the elimination of women from the Iranian music arena. “In the past, there were only a few cities in which women were not allowed to appear on stage, but right now almost all cities are converging on not allowing women musicians in the bands,” he said.
Pirouz Arjmand, Head of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance’s Music Office opposes eliminating women from musical performances. “This type of gender segregation and excluding women is against the policies of the Ministry of Culture. If women have problems appearing on stages in towns, it isn’t because of the views of the Ministry of Culture; rather, it is related to other organizations. For this reason we are interested to hear from them and need to know based on what documents women have been kept from participation in musical groups,” he told Shargh Daily. According to Arjmand, Isfahan Province is one of the provinces that have publicly announced they will be keeping women from appearing on stage.
Meanwhile, Colonel Helali of the Public Buildings Office told Tasnim, “As a general rule, employment of women in coffee houses is prohibited. Even though women are permitted to receive business licenses for coffee houses, women who wish to apply for a business license for a coffee house must introduce a man as their designated supervisor of the establishment, as according to law, women’s presence and employment, even if they hold the business license, is prohibited in coffee houses.”
According to the latest unemployment statistics published by the Statistical Center of Iran in 2013, there are more unemployed women than men. According to the Center, the unemployment rate for men is 8.6%, whereas it is 19.8% for women. Many Iranian officials have gone on record to state that raising children and marriage is the proper mission for women.
Earlier this summer the Tehran Municipality announced its gender segregation plan for its administrative offices. The plan stipulates that managers of the Municipality will no longer be allowed to have female secretaries, typists, or office managers, and all women in such positions will be replaced with men.
Though Rouhani’s administration has stated its opposition to the Tehran Municipality’s gender segregation plan, many high-ranking Iranian officials such as the Speaker of the Parliament, the Head of the Administrative Courts, and several Members of Parliament have defended the plan set forth by Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, thanking him for implementing what they state is a decision based on Islamic values. Officials have also encouraged other government organizations to follow suit and to put gender segregation in their offices at the top of their agenda.