Iran Has Contributed to Peace and Security in the Middle East, Says Iranian Vice President

Key points in this article:

  • The Iranian Vice President for Women and Family Affairs, Dr. Masoumeh Ebtekar, gave a speech in Tokyo
  • Iran has fulfilled her global mission by working to eradicate the Islamic State and accept refugees
  • The U.S. ought to have respect and tolerance towards the Muslim religion and culture

On the 27th, Masoumeh Ebtekar, Iran’s Vice President for Women and Family Affairs, gave a speech entitled “Iran and Women Empowerment: Trends and Prospects” at the Women Political Leaders Global Forum hosted by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, Tokyo.

The Foundation and the Vice President have been co-investigating women’s empowerment in both Japan and Iran since 2017.

This time, Dr. Ebtekar spoke about the current situation of Iranian women in society 40 years after the Iranian Revolution, and on the rising tensions between Iran and the U.S.


Women Should Be Valued More for Their Work in the Household

For those with the impression that Islam is a misogynistic religion, it may come as a surprise that the number of Iranian women with schooling has steadily increased since the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Before the Revolution, people were highly sceptical about sending women to school. After the Revolution, a higher percentage of women started attending school and the average life expectancy has increased by 20 years since 1976.

There are more and more women completing higher education, and women now make up between 15-17% of Iran’s work force.

In her speech, Dr. Ebtekar advocated women’s employment.

Iran’s law states that men should support families. But while men should maintain this role, we must also increase their work inside the household to enable women to enter the workforce and start their own businesses, she said.

Her decade-long research of women’s economic output revealed that women’s work inside the household is equivalent to 22-23% of the GDP, which is why we must acknowledge the fact that housewives have economic value for the country.


Iran Has Contributed Towards Eradicating Islamic State

Dr. Ebtekar also spoke about the increasing tensions between Iran and the U.S. The following is a general outline of her argument:

  • Iran has contributed to the peace and security of the Middle East. The Islamic State is a terrorist group and has nothing to do with Islam. Iran wants to cooperate towards eradicating terrorism.
  • The attacks on Afghanistan created many refugees. Iran has accepted between 3 to 4 million Afghan refugees. But it was not Iran that waged war against Afghanistan. Iran has shouldered a responsibility that should have been shouldered by the international community.
  • Iran has followed the responsibilities agreed to in the Deal Nuclear. But the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from the Deal and started enforcing sanctions on Iran. This is probably to prevent Iran from becoming an economic superpower. But Iran has dignity, so we won’t negotiate under pressure. True, Iran shot down a U.S. drone, but that was because it had entered Iran’s airspace.
  • Japan and the countries involved in the Nuclear Deal must correctly understand that Iran has taken in Middle Eastern refugees, contributed to eradicating the Islamic State and has worked towards controlling illicit drugs. Iran wants your support.


The U.S. Ought to Show Respect and Tolerance Towards the Muslim Religion and Culture

The U.S. seems to think that if they continue to apply pressure on Iran, Iran will eventually agree to negotiate and sign a new nuclear deal.

But as Dr. Ebtekar said, Iran is a country of dignity with a long history and tradition. The Iranian government has claimed that the recently added economic sanctions could mean the end of diplomatic channels between Iran and the U.S., and that Iran is no longer obliged to maintain the Nuclear Deal.

The sanction reinforcement reminds one of the encirclement around Japan back in 1941, which reduced the target to take one of two options: fight or surrender.

Iran would probably choose to die fighting than to surrender in silence. But surely the Trump administration doesn’t want things to escalate this far.

The U.S. must not adopt diplomatic policies that force other countries to choose war. Japan should introduce to global opinion, a fair evaluation of Iran’s contributions to the world.

We must also deepen our understanding of Iran’s religion and culture, showing respect and tolerance towards Iran’s religious tradition.

Iran has a wholly different cultural background. Dr. Ebtekar’s speech about Iran’s household and women in society painted a very different picture to the Western style. Westernization does not equal modernization. The U.S. is forcing Iran to stop nuclear development and to embrace the Western sense of prosperity. But what Trump is missing is a deeper understanding and tolerance for a religion and culture that is different.

As Kissinger explains in his book “World Order,” we are at a stage where religion has become a major player in international politics. Japan has a religious and cultural mission to bridge the gap between the West and the Middle East. (Hanako Cho)

Iran Has Contributed to Peace and Security in the Middle East, Says Iranian Vice President
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