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Iranian Bureau of Women's Affairs


A bureau created to improve conditions for women through education, training, and the reform of laws affecting women's status.

The Iranian Bureau of Women's Affairs was created in December 1991. The idea for its founding came from Marziyeh Seddiqi, an American-educated Iranian engineer who later became the bureau's head of planning and research and a member of the Fifth Parliament (19962000), and from Shahla Habibi, whom President Hashemi Rafsanjani later appointed director of the bureau and his adviser on women's affairs. These two women had worked closely together, organizing a seminar on the issue, calling for the cooperation of cabinet ministers, and submitting the project of creating the bureau to the president. An offshoot of the presidential office, the bureau's goal was to identify and ameliorate problems in the condition of women and to propose solutions that would elevate women's status and promote their economic, social, cultural, and political participation. Its projects included work on women's education and training, women's managerial skills, reform of the civil code and divorce law, sending female students abroad for higher education, and creating a center for women's employment and a center to provide women with legal advice. Maʿsoumeh Ebtekar, a university professor and the editor of a woman's journal, Farzaneh, who in 1997 became vice president in charge of the protection of the environment, was in charge of the bureau's education and training program. The bureau worked closely with the High Council of the Cultural Revolution, which determines general policies of the state, with the Social and Cultural Council of Women (created in 1987), with cabinet ministers, and with members of parliament. As a result of this collaboration, women's commissions or bureaus were created in various ministries, cabinet ministers appointed advisers on women's affairs, and several motions were presented by women members of parliament to ameliorate the status of women. Following President Mohammad Khatami's election in 1997, the bureau changed its name and became the Center for Women's Participation, chaired by Zahra Shojaie.

see also gender: gender and law; gender: gender and politics.

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