Gender Inequality

Women’s rights must be central to any talks with Iran, says husband of jailed Nobel Peace laureate

Speaking in Davos, Rahmani called on the world to make women’s rights an “inseparable part of any agreements” they strike with Iran.

Speaking in Davos, Rahmani called on the world to make women’s rights an “inseparable part of any agreements” they strike with Iran. Image: REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Stéphanie Thomson
Writer, Forum Agenda
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Gender Inequality

This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
  • Journalist and activist Taghi Rahmani is the husband of jailed Iranian rights campaigner Narges Mohammadi, winner of the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize.
  • Speaking in Davos, Rahmani called on the world to make women’s rights an “inseparable part of any agreements” they strike with Iran.
  • Davos 2024, the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, takes place from 15–19 January in Davos, Switzerland.

The husband of jailed Nobel Peace Prize laureate Narges Mohammadi has called on Western leaders engaging with Iran to put women's rights at the heart of any negotiations with the Islamic Republic.

“Women’s rights should be a central part of world powers’ negotiations with the Iranian government and treated as an inseparable part of any agreement,” Taghi Rahmani told participants at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting.

“First, respect women’s rights. After that, we can negotiate,” he said.

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Narges Mohammadi has been in and out of prison in Iran for the past decade, and was this week sentenced to an additional 15 months of detention. In late 2023, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, in recognition for her “fight against the oppression of women in Iran and her fight to promote human rights and freedom for all.”

Rahmani, who is now based in Paris after having himself been imprisoned in Iran for his work as a journalist and political activist, told participants in Davos about the daily discrimination faced by women in Iran.

“This is a country in which the number of female university students surpasses that of males, and approximately 3 million women are the breadwinners and heads of households,” he said. “Yet the Islamic Republic imposes a wide-ranging set of discriminatory written and unwritten rules against Iranian women.”

For example, he said that despite their education and wide participation in Iranian society and economy, certain occupations, such as senior judicial positions, are not open to women.

He also mentioned the mandatory hijab, by which women are forced by law to cover their hair and dress 'modestly', rules vigorously enforced by a so-called morality police.

In 2022, wide-scale demonstrations erupted across Iran following the death of a young Iranian woman in police custody. Mahsa Amini had been arrested for non-compliance with Iran’s Hijab laws.

“The issue is not just about forcing women to cover themselves when they step outside of their house,” Rahmani said. “It’s about the daily reminder of the presence and power of the totalitarian system on women.”

Representatives from the Iranian government were also present in Davos this week.

In spite of a government crackdown, 2023 still saw many protests in Iran, supported by the Iranian diaspora and their supporters around the world.

“Even now, the sheer number of women who risk, on a daily basis, fines, arrest, and worse, has forced some of the clerical rulers to contemplate change to the implementation of Islamic laws,”

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Related topics:
Gender InequalityDavos AgendaGeopolitics
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