Human Rights of Women National Beijing+10 Report of the Communication Network of Women's NGOs of the I.R.I



Respect to the human dignity and also preserving the human values have been two

basic and religious points mentioned in the holy Quran. There is also a rich literature

of religion in the history of Islamic sciences. The main proof to this point is the

letter of Imam Ali to Malek Ashtar which indicators important points in observing

the human rights and the necessity to respect the human dignity.

This is the reason that the issue of human rights has been of great importance in the

history and the culture of Iranians. This issue has also created different verbal and

legal tendencies among Shiites and has established various theories. Nowadays,

most of the sources give special attention to the Islamic Human Rights.

Islam has also given special important to the women’s human rights. The principle

of equality among human beings has also been of great importance in Islam. The

Holy Quran has considered all the human beings as equal and the only priority is

the belief in God. Also one of the historical realities which gives respect to women

is the prevention of burying women live in the pre-Islam era.

Although the great participation of women in the Islamic Revolution has been mentioned

many times by the great leader and he has insisted on the necessity of observing

the human values of women, but the legal revisions supervising the women’s

human rights has banned them significantly since 1991 to enter the decision making


The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Article 20

All citizens of the country, both men and women, equally enjoy the protection of the

law and enjoy all human, political, economic, social, and cultural rights, in conformity

with Islamic criteria.

Article 3

7. Ensuring political and social freedoms within the framework of the law;

14. Securing the multifarious rights of all citizens, both women and men, and providing

legal protection for all, as well as the equality of-all before the law;

Article 19

All people of Iran, whatever the ethnic group or tribe to which they belong, enjoy

equal rights; and color, race, language, and the like, do not bestow any privilege

.Article 23

The investigation of individuals’ beliefs is forbidden, and no one may be molested

or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief.

Article 38

All forms of torture for the purpose of extracting confession or acquiring information

are forbidden. Compulsion of individuals to testify, confess, or take an oath is

not permissible; and any testimony, confession, or oath obtained under duress is

devoid of value and credence. Violation of this article is liable to punishment in

accordance with the law


20 year vision of the country:

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- Iran is a developed country

along with the cultural, social and historical standards

relying on Islamic, national and the Revolution values

insisting on religious public dominance

social justice

conditional freedom

preserving human rights

benefiting the social and judicial security

Charter of Women’s Rights and Responsibilities

3. Whereas in the Islamic Law individuals are responsible towards God, themselves,

society and existence itself, therefore, in referring to women’s responsibilities

it is with respect to the above-mentioned factors. Women will also have no

responsibility in cases of lack of general conditions of obligation (intellect, puberty,

will power…); the type of women’s relation with the referred cases has been recognized

through the use of the word “right” or “responsibility”.

8. Women’s rights and responsibilities have been outlined in the structure of Charter

as follows:

a. Individual Rights

b. Family Rights

c. Social Rights (including the right of health and cultural, economic, social, political,

and judicial rights)

9. The Charter aims to present views of the Islamic Republic of Iran, conforming to

Shi’ite Law and System of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in the field of women’s

issues. As a pivot in terms of dialogue with other Islamic countries it can be considered

an effective factor in the initiation of another bill with the cooperation and

agreement of the Islamic countries at the international level.

Current Conditions and Achievements

The trend of legal changes in the country in order to realize human rights seems to

be reconfirmed with the approval of a bill called “citizens’ rights” by the Islamic

Parliament in May 2004. This bill was first like a circular by Ayatollah Shahroudi,

Head of Judiciary. It shows that the trend to strengthen and stabilize the human

rights is still continuing after the Revolution. Regarding human rights of women,

this trend has greater dimensions and different groups in three branches of the country

and also groups outside the structure of the government, have started their efforts

to create conditions for the realization of human rights of women. This subject has

been strictly emphasized in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Some of these changes have been mentioned in section of governmental actions.

Actions such as establishing family courts and also applying female consulting

judges in the review courts in cases such as divorce, that will help women to be

more protected. Also the increase in the age of marriage, child custody and also

alternative punishments specially stopping the stoning of women are also among

actions taken in this respect.

Another important point in the subject of human rights is the existence of institutions

which have a great role in the field of human rights of women. These institutions

can institutionalize the rights –based approach and promote the human rights

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of women. On one hand, the Cultural and Social Council of Women has approved

the Rights and Responsibilities of Women in the Islamic Republic of Iran in 2004.

On the other hand, the Center for Women’s Participation, as an important institution

in women’s affairs in the government, has set the Plan of Comprehensive Legal and

Judicial System regarding the legal and judicial status of women. Existence of a

fraction for women besides the Commission for Women, Family and Youth in the

Islamic Parliament can have a good effect on the approval trend of the bills to the

benefit of women. Establishing a Bureau for Supporting Women and Children in the

Judiciary and other offices being supervised by the Judiciary and other related institutions

has been very effective in realizing the human rights of women.

Human rights have been taken among the public and specially women. The

Ministry of Education and Training has started courses on human rights, a charter

of students rights have been prepared (by students themselves). Nowadays, students

at school believe that they have rights. The Training Office of the Judiciary has

started training to familiarize citizens with their rights and the Center for Women’s

Participation has supported the training projects for women’s rights. Human Rights

training courses are being run at M.A. and M.S. degrees. Centers for Research and

Study on Human Rights have become active in Tehran University and also Mofid

University in Qom. The Chair of Human Rights, Peace and Democracy in the

Shahid Beheshti University has opened new discussions in human rights literature

and specially the expansion of human rights for women in the country. Also the

entrance of human rights for women in the programs of United Nations Agencies

active in Iran has opened a new era in the country. The United Nations Population

Fund has been active with the cooperation of the Center for Women’s Participation

in developing and guaranteeing the rights on health, reproductive and creating a

gender network with 1180 men and women active in governmental and non-governmental

organizations. They have been able to expand the right in reproductive

health throughout the country. Women’s NGOs and also the national institutions of

the Islamic Human Rights Commission have monitored human rights of women as

a priority. Also some professional societies such as the Bar Association and other

related organizations have opened new windows to support of human rights of

women in the country.



The Islamic Parliament has taken certain measures in reforming laws. A total of 41

bills regarding women’s rights and issues have been studied in the Islamic

Parliament and out of this, 20 bills have been approved as laws. Certain laws that

have been adopted whether by the Islamic Parliament or the Expediency Council

have been mentioned.

Regarding courts, certain courts have been dedicated to the courts mentioned

in Article 21 of the Constitution (family courts). In such courts,

according to the law, the sentences will be given after being consulted by a

female judicial consultant.

Regarding getting divorce, according to Article 1133 of the Civil Law, a

man could give divorce to his wife upon his will but it was changed as fol-

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lows: a man can refer to a court and give the request for divorce by observing

the conditions set in the law. Meanwhile Article 1130 of the Civil Law

has been revised and the cases of “Osr va Haraj” for women have been specified

by the Expediency Council.

Regarding women’s alimony, Article 1107 of civil law has been revised to:

the financial rights of a woman includes logical and proper needs of a

woman such as accommodation, clothing, food, home appliances and health

and treatment expenses and maid on the condition of disability or sickness.

Also Article 1110 has been revised so that this salary should be paid to

women even after their husbands’ death.

Regarding the age of marriage and growth, Article 1041 of civil law and its

remarks has been revised as: the minimum age of marriage for a girl is 13

years and for a boy is 15 years. If the marriage is due to take place before

their legal age, then it should be according to the rules and also the supervision

of court. Article 1210 of civil law was revised to distinguish the age of

growth of the age of maturity for boys and girls. A boy is mature after 15

years of age and a girl is mature after 13 years of age unless it can be proved

the opposite.

Regarding the child custody, Article 1169 of civil law approved by 1935 has

been revised: the child custody is given to the mother if he/she is under 7

years of age. After that age it shall be decided by the family court considering

the child’s benefits.

Regarding the penal punishments, the stone killing has been stopped in 2002

by the order of Head of Judiciary. Also in the contents of Article 638 of

Islamic Penal Law approved in 1996, the punishment of lashing has been

transformed to prison sentences and cash punishment.

The revision of Article 3 of the University Law in a way that female students

are able to go abroad without considering their status of marriage.


Iranian women are more educated nowadays and have more opportunities to study.

Even in certain fields, they are more advanced than men. The increase in the number

of girls attending university compared to the number of boys attending university

is a proof. They also know more about their legal rights and this prevents their

rights to be neglected. The point that all need to have legal training has been seriously

considered by governmental and non-governmental organizations. The

Ministry of Education has taken the first step in this regard, and within the Ministry,

the Charter of Students’ Rights have been drafted. All the students, no matter boys

or girls, know their rights as human beings at school and also after they are graduated.

Also the training on the rights of girl students has been implemented in 2002

in five provinces with the cooperation of the Center for Women’s Participation.

Since this project has been much successful, it is going to be implemented for all

high school female students. There have also been some changes in high school curricula

and women’s rights are being included. Certain training programmes are

being implemented by some governmental sectors. Also training workshops on

women’s rights are being held by the Center for Women’s Participation, the

Ministry of Interior, the National Youth Organization, Provinces Governorships, the

Islamic Propagation Organization and the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting.

But compiling a comprehensive programme for training of all people throughout

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the country specially for women is very necessary. Such a program can increase the

knowledge of women on their rights, and certainly it creates a lasting impact. An

obstacle depriving women from their rights is the existence of some traditional attitudes

towards women and their roles in the family and society and therefore, such

trainings can be very useful not only within the education system but also through

the mass media.

Nowadays in the country, there are special magazines and journals for women

developing women’s rights and their experiences. There is also a “women’s studies”

course in the universities which has been initiated by a women’s NGO. Institutions

rendering services to women are increasing daily. Meanwhile, NGOs have opened

a new era in the promotion of human rights of women specially in cities.

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination

Against Women




The Islamic Republic of Iran is studying the Convention on the Elimination of All

Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). It is necessary to mention that

Iran is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and

the International Covenant on Social, Cultural and Economic Rights. Being a party

to these two human rights instruments, means that Iran has obligation towards a policy

of non-discrimination and equality of men and women, since this is a basic principle

of these two Covenants. However, the CEDAWgoes further and regulates certain

issues within the private life of women in the families.

The issue of ratifying CEDAW has been a top discussion among the governmental

organizations. The following table shows developments of the past ten years in the

government to join the Convention:

1997 The Cultural Revolution Council rejected ratification of the CEDAW

1999 Request of the Center for Women’s Participation to the President to review the possibilities

of ratifying the Convention and the fact that it should be reviewed by experts

1999 President ordered to its prime deputy to review the Convention

2000 & 2001 Reviewing the Convention in five long meetings to compare and identify those

contents in the Convention that are against the laws in the Islamic Republic of Iran

2001 Approval of ratification the Convention (by reservations) by the government delegation;

Islamic Republic of Iran accepts Articles of the Convention where they are not against Islamic laws,

Islamic Republic of Iran doesn’t accept to implement section one of Article 29 to refer cases of

disagreements to international court of Justice.

2001 Submitting the bill to the Parliament

2001 Discussing the bill of the Convention in the Cultural Commission of the Islamic Parliament

and its approval at the first meeting

2003 The Parliament voted to ratification of the Convention. It was then rejected by the Guardian


2004 Review of the issue by State Expediency Council after emphasis of sixth Parliament over

its previous opinion (2003) .

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Debates on CEDAW

Many seminars and meetings have been held whether in approving the contents of

the Convention or on rejecting the whole Convention. Papers have been published

and various aspects of the Convention have been discussed. It seems that there is a

continuous debate on CEDAW.

But, regarding international law, The Islamic Republic of Iran has signed the United

Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, adopted in 2000 in

Palermo and also the Statute of the International Criminal Court adopted in Rome

in 1999. Ratification of these two instruments will certainly affect the government

in its way in observing human rights of women.

Monitoring mechanisms for realization of human rights of women

Existence of monitoring mechanisms to achieve women’s human rights can be

effective. Besides policy-making bodies such as Women’s Participation Center and

Women’s socio-cultural council, other support organizations such as the Center for

Women’s Participation, Bureau of Supporting Women and Children in the Judiciary,

the Islamic Human Rights Commission and other similar organizations are responsible

to monitor implementation of law to achieve women’s human rights. The

Islamic Human Rights Commission is active both at legal level and in following up

complaints. The Commission has Women and Children’s Committee pays special

attention to women’s rights and visits are being made to women’s prisons and have

had recommendations to prevent violations of human rights. On the other hand,

human rights defenders of the Commission are active in many cities within the

country. However, establishment of an integrated body to monitor women’s human

rights seems essential.

Human rights among religious minorities

Different religious minorities such as Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians live in Iran

and they have their own civil laws and regulations that fit into their religious beliefs.

Criminal and civil laws regarding religious minorities sometimes deepen the gender

gaps and ignores natural rights of women.

Jewish women have their own specific problems since Jewish community is a

closed society in Iran. Average age of marriage among Jews in Iran is 20 years for

girls and for boys it is before they reach to the third decade of their life meaning that

the average age of marriage in the last 15 years in Iranian Jewish society is lower

than the present age of marriage in Iran. Low age of marriage not only brings financial

burden over the couple but also it can restrict education and individual development

opportunities that will automatically bring depression from rapid decisionmaking

in marriage or being under pressure for a lifetime. Most of the marriages

happen in a traditional way where older people introduce the young couples to one

another which restricts social contacts and possibility of choice and forces the couple

to accept a mutual life.

Religious minorities follow their own laws regarding civil issues such as marriage,

divorce, inheritance and will and in many cases Jews are more restricted in issues

such as right to divorce. A women cannot apply for divorce even if the husband has

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ran away. Difficult processes of divorce gives more power to men and make them

practice domestic violence.

Divorce is a shame among Jewish community in Iran so the possibility of other marriage

for men is really limited and for women it is almost impossible and those who

have the opportunity of divorce with all its difficult processes know that in any age

they cannot remarry and have family except in cases where parents and children die

and they accept the hard procedure of immigration or marrying a non-Jewish person

which is most of the times unsuccessful.

The situation for Zoroastrian women is different. They usually face problems in

recruitment processes in many governmental bodies since the autonomous managers

deprive them due to being religious minority. But they representative in the

Parliament is actively following up this issue and in many cases there have been

orders to eliminate this restrictions.

Zoroastrian Women’s Association, as an NGO that has got Consultative Status to

United Nations is an active organization in the country that is working to improve

Zoroastrian women’s status.

Civil rights and equal rights of men and women among Assyrian women depends

their membership in different churches. Catholic church considers equal rights for

men and women and it can be clearly detected at the time of inheritance. According

to statistics, illiteracy is very low among Assyrian women but they are facing some

traditional and customs problems. The head of the family is the autonomous power

to take decisions in the family regarding marriage and employment though it has

become less powerful in the recent years and girls marry on their own choice or they

work outside of the house but there are still traditional limits.

Regarding Armenian women, the main issue is unemployment. Educated Armenian

women apply for immigration due to unemployment and failure in finding a job.

Government’s Actions

revision of some civil and penal laws in order to protect the human rights of women

(child custody, laws related to the family courts structure, divorce, etc)

Increase in the minimum age of girls marriage in law and their rights.

Applying female consultants in family courts in order to give special support to

women to benefit human rights

Stopping the stoning of women and efforts to apply substitute punishments

Establishing a Bureau to support women and children in the Judiciary which

will have an important role in giving legal assistance to the vulnerable.

Efforts for increasing access to justice through establishing mechanisms, offering

telephone consultation in the training department of Judiciary, creating institutions

for follow-ups and rendering legal assistance, meetings of Head of

Judiciary with the public and …

Decision of government and the Parliament to ratify the Convention on

Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Actions to give legal training by different sectors of the government through

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organizing training workshops and also training of girls in high schools by the

Ministry of Education to familiarize them with their rights.

Implementing join 5 year project of women participation affairs office and United

Nations Population Fund to develop reproductive health and also to strengthen

women in four provinces of Golestan, Boushehr, Kordestan and Islam Shahr in

Tehran province.

Establishing centers of human rights research in universities (Tehran University,

Shahid Beheshti University and Mofid University in Qom) and also starting human

rights courses at Masters degrees in universities.

Approval of citizenship law in May of 2004.

Women’s NGOs Activities

In the field of women’s human rights, women’s NGOs have implemented 86

activities. Most of their activities have been focusing on capacity building and

enabling the individuals to be aware of their rights. Also these organizations

have organized seminars and conferences related to women’s rights. Some of

the activities of these organizations have been focused on the revision of some

civil and penal laws.

- Holding seminars, ceremonies, roundtables and national or international days with

the goal to have information dissemination on human rights for women

holding courses and training workshops on human rights for women

various activities for information dissemination and familiarization with rights for


activities in order to support and defend women’s human rights

rendering legal consultations to vulnerable group of women

Holding consultative meetings with law makers and governmental implementers

and rendering consultations in the fields of women’s rights to them

Holding exhibitions with the subject of human rights for women

Follow-up activities to change and revise laws related to women

Provision of legal suggestions and presenting them to the governmental and members

of Parliament with the hope to have effect on women’s human rights

Research and suggestions on women’s rights

Publication and distribution of training pamphlets and information dissemination

bulletins, publications, brochures to increase awareness among women

Compiling articles in different fields of women’s rights

It seems that the willingness of women’s NGOs to have legal activities is less than

civil and social activities. The reason is first because of the specialty of legal discussions

and secondly the non-encouragement of these activities by the government.

Also the weakness of NGOs in rendering social services and focus on social

workers is another obstacle in their actions to support women’s human rights.

Considering the fact that activities in the field of human rights are one of the most

challenging fields for NGOs because all NGOs want to stay away from politics and

activities in the fields of human rights will take them towards politics. It is necessary

for NGOs to be active in research and study fields because it seems that these

organization are at the beginning of their way towards women’s rights in the country.

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CNWN Activities

Establishment of a Legal Commission within the structure of the Communication

Network to prepare certain draft rules and regulations related to women to present

them to the specialized commissions of the Islamic Parliament

Presenting to the Legal Commission of the Islamic Parliament a proposal to establish

family courts

Presenting the revision of law regarding marriage and remarriage, age of marriage

(with the hope to omit the remarks in Article 1041)

Publishing a statement regarding the women’s rights in Afghanistan and also a

statement on condemning the killings in Algeria

Active participation of CNWN’s representatives in a workshop in Tehran on regional

arrangements of human rights in Asia and Pacific region, also meeting with Ms.

Mary Robinson, the United National High Commissioner for Human Rights

Participation in the seminar on “programming against child abuse” in 1998 in

Tehran and giving speech in this seminar

Participation in the annual meeting of Human Rights Commission in Geneva

Holding training workshops to study the ratification of the Convention on

Elimination of All Forms of Violence Against Women with the cooperation of

White Mehr Home, one of the women’s NGOs (with the participation of 100

Representatives from NGOs, members of governmental sectors and universities

Participation in the conference of sports and human rights in Australia in September


Holding a training course on human rights for four months for the representatives

of NGOs which are the members of the network with the cooperation of the

UNESCO Chair for Human Rights, Peace and Democracy of Shahid Beheshti

University and with the participation of legal professors of this university. In this

course 45 women gained knowledge on main instruments of human rights and

human rights institutions at international level. In this training course, main issues

of human rights and Islam as well as an anthropological perspective of human rights

was studies.

Fourth National Development Plan

Government is obliged to draft the Charter of Citizens’ Rights in order to promote

the human rights, create the grounds for individual and social security in the society,

educate an active, responsible, satisfied and dedicated generation, disciplined

with a spirit of cooperation and social adjustment, loyal to the Revolution and

Islamic System and flourishing of Iran, who feels proud to be Iranian. The Charter

may be approved by the related authorities and can have the following sections:

promotion of a culture of respecting to laws and citizenship regulations

provision of freedom and guaranteeing the freedom

having the right to elect and to be elected

orienting the political and social activities towards the legal procedures and supporting

a security guranttee for activities and legal gatherings

Provision of necessary freedom and security so that the social organizations can

grow in the filed of child and women rights perseverance

Promotion of unifying and respectful concepts to social groups and different ethnic

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groups in our national culture

Preserving the private life of individuals

Promoting a sense of social security among the public and society (Chapter 8 Article


Provision of legal supports, social consultations to defend personal, family and

social rights of the poor, (Chapter 8, Paragraph z, Article 95)

Compiling and approving the complementary project of strengthening and supporting

the women’s rights in legal and social, economic aspects and its implementation

in related centers (Chapter 8, Paragraph h, Article 98)

Challenges and Constraints

Lack of a national institution and a center to have enough and effective oversight on

realization and promotion of human rights of women

Lack of a comprehensive and multi-lateral training program. Some actions are taken

but they are not integrated and has no synergic effect

Existence of some traditional and old beliefs and a culture which acts as an obstacle

on the way of realization of human rights of women

Existence of some discriminative laws and weakness in the supervision of law


Lack of support and legal assistance to vulnerable women, tribal and religious


Non-observance of some women’s rights in the family because of certain wrong

attitudes towards women and their role in family and society

Lack of unity among executing agencies and also different interpretation for one


Lack of researches and training in universities on human rights of women

Lack of information dissemination and also supervision on the method of implementation

of laws related to women

Lack of confidence among other NGOs which are sensitive to human rights of


The long procedure of approving a law related to human rights of women (for example,

the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women)

Female members of the Parliament are in minority

Recommendation to Government

Strengthening the positive actions of the government and legislative organization in

the revision of laws and also campaigning against some traditional, tribal and wrong

perspectives which is an obstacle towards the realization of human rights of women

Increasing the access to justice especially for women through increasing the legal

clinics, legal consultation centers, legal assistance centers and social working centers,

also centers to support prisoners and their families.

Strengthening the aspect of substitute punishments to decrease individual and social

harms caused by the crime and its punishment

Improving the welfare of women prisoners based on a gender perspective and also

improving the assistance given to them

More supervision on the legal rights of female employees specially women working

in private sectors

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Expanding the human development and programming to realize the anti-poverty

campaign as one of the main roots in obstructing realization of human rights of


Establishing a national institution to realize and supervise women’s rights with the

participation of all governmental and non-governmental groups

Compiling a national program to realize human rights of women

Institutionalize the training on human rights specially human rights of women in

different levels and specially through mass media and through a training program

for all the people to become familiar with their rights

Training of police officers and law administrators and prison guards with the standards

of human rights

Placing the training on women’s rights in the books of various levels of the education

so that the girls can become familiar with their rights after being graduated

from high school

Recommendation to Women’s NGOs

Expansion of training activities for NGOs with the cooperation of local and regional

women groups, capacity building centers, and also applying new training and

workshop methods in training of human rights for women. NGOs should not forget

that the training for men has equal importance as the training for women

It is necessary to mention that those women’s NGOs who are active in promoting

the women’s rights should invite judges, lawyers and lawmakers to cooperate with

them and also they should be active in networks working on human rights.

It is recommended that NGOs should consider the gender issue in their programming

for development and give special importance to the right for development as

an inalienable right within the human rights system.

Special effort of organizations towards research and training activities specially

case and regional studies.

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During the last 10 years, due to the realization of the Constitution, the Iranian

dynamic society has been a ground for many changes and there have been many

development programs in the field of human rights and specially human rights of

women. Those changes have had effects on the different aspects of the lives of citizens

in our country. The special point is the promotion of a rights-based approach

in various issues such as the development trend of the country. Considering the fact

that human beings are at the core of any development programmes, the rights-based

approach has gained more credibility within our society; and it can be found in other

fields such as training and vocation, health, welfare, food, accommodation and

employment. Emphasis on the fact that comprehensive and sustainable human

development has close ties with the realization of all human rights has become a

necessary base in making a better future for all Iranians specially women of this


Along with this rights-based approach, in the field of foreign policy, and according

to the false description of some European and American countries, government of

Iran has showed a reactive position towards the international standards of human

rights but it is now changing towards a dialogue environment. In 2002, Iran came

out of the agenda of United Nations Human Rights Commission. The events happening

in the region and the trend of dialogue with European Union during the last

3 years has developed deep horizons to study the standard of human rights deeply.

Out of the 7 documents of Human Rights, Iran is a state party to four Conventions.

While during the last few years, the subject of ratification of the Convention of All

Forms of Discrimination Against Women and also the Convention Against Torture

has been among the top discussions of law making and legal societies in the country.


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