Women in Power and Decision-Making



Women as the hidden power of the society in the history, have had non-deniable

effects on the political and social changes of their lives.

The History of Iran like the other countries, has been full of hidden interventions of

women in politics and decision makings. Whereas the strength of men has prevented

them to be directly in power and decision making.

During the last hundred years, the Iranian public has witnessed two public revolutions,

one the Constitution movements and the other is the Islamic Revolution.

The presence and participation of women in forming these two great movements has

been so active that the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution has considered it

due to the efforts of women.

Although the leaders of the country are willing to have women in power and there

have also been developed movements to consider the participation of women in

decision makings and governmental organization, but there are still some obstacles

in their presence. Women are very willing to participate in decision makings in governmental

delegations, being deputies, counselor of the Ministers, Director Generals

and Governors.

The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Article 3

8. The participation of the entire people in determining their political, economic,

social, and cultural destiny;

6. The elimination of all forms of despotism and autocracy and all attempts to

monopolize power;

Article 6

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, the affairs of the country must be administered on

the basis of public opinion expressed by the means of elections, including the election

of the President, the representatives of the Islamic Consultative Assembly, and

the members of councils, or by means of referenda in matters specified in other articles

of this Constitution.


Twenty years vision of the country:

Unity of people and government – sense of corporation

Charter of Women’s Rights and Responsibilities

116. Right to participate and be elected in parliamentary elections and elections of

different councils and to partake in governmental planning and occupy high-rank

managerial positions with the observance of regulations

B. Women’s Rights and Responsibilities in the International Politics

119. Right and responsibility of active and effective participation in the Islamic,

regional, and international societies in particular in the field of women’s issues with

the observance of legal standards;

Current situation and Achievements


Women in Power and Decision-Making

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the Communication Network of

Women's NGOs of the I.R.I


Women in Parliament

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, almost all parties do their efforts to have some

female candidates during the election but still the number of women is very little.

During the last 7 rounds of the Islamic Parliament, only in the 5th Parliament the

number of women has been high. There were 14 candidates out of a total of 270.

This was 6.5 percent of the total number of candidates. In the 6th and 7th

Parliament, the total number of candidates was 290 out of which there were only 13

and 12 female candidates. This shows a percentage of 4.4 and 1.4 percent of the

total number of candidates (Women in Iran in the trend of development – Women’s life

Research and improvement institute – page 90.)

In the latest election of the Parliament, about 800 women throughout the country

were volunteers to become candidates and enter the Parliament. This number had

an increase of 25 percent compared to the elections before. Increase in the number

of female volunteers to enter the Parliament and the decrease in the number of those

accepted shows that if the communities were more, then the chances of women

would have become high.

In the first round of cities and villages Islamic Council Elections, 7252 women

throughout the country were ready to become members of these Councils. Out of

this number 2.2% of them were the volunteers of the Council. About 784 women

became the members of the Councils out of which 300 were in cities and 484 were

in villages. This number is 7.0 percent of the total number of the members of the


Women’s NGOs have had an increase during the last decade. The number of

women’s NGOs was 76 in 1997, 248 in the beginning of 2001 and 2002 and 480 in

2004. (These NGOs are active in charity, cultural, social and specialized affairs

(Women in Iran in development trend, page 88.).

Non-governmental organizations

Number of females working for government has increased during the last decade.

In 1991 this number was 633,000 which was 30 percent of the total employees of

the government. In 1997 the number increased but the portion of female employees

decreased. In 2003, a new policy was created to balance the number of female and

male governmental employees. With this policy, the number of men decreased but

the number of women increased considerably. This increase upgraded the portion of

female employees in government up to 31 percent.

In 1996, out of the total number of employees throughout the country, 2.2 percent

were lawmakers, High-ranking authorities and Managers. Out of this number only

3.0 percent were females and 9.1 percent were males. In other words, out of the total

number of Managers and High Ranking authorities, 87 percent were male and 13

percent were women.

In 2000, these numbers remained the same but in 2004, the portion of female

Managers and High Ranking authorities increased whereas in 2004, out of the total

employees, 4.2 percent were lawmakers, high- ranking authorities and Managers.

This figure was 1.2 percent among men and 4.2 were women. At the same time, out

of the total number of lawmakers and high-ranking authorities and managers, 85

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percent were male and 15 percent were female. The portion of female managers and

high- ranking employees had an increase of 2 percent.

Women in high levels of management

According to a study, the number of women in governmental management positions

in 1999 was 3029 that was 2.5 percent of the total number of managers and supervisors

of the organization. Deputies of the organizations and Director Managers

with ¼ percent were the least numbers and Head of Organization or Deputy of

organization with 2.6 and 8.6 was the biggest number among managers.

Another statistics, which had been derived from the Iran Management Information

Bank in Governmental Management Training shows, that most women were active

in low Management positions. It means that 75 percent of the employed women in

Management positions were Head of a Group or organization or the Deputy of a

Group. Only 8.0 percent was active in the positions such as Deputy to Minister,

Governor, and only 3 percent were at the level of being a Directing Manager or an

equal position.

The Coordination Department for Women’s NGOs was established in 1993 and is

now acting as a connecting point between the government and the women’s NGOs.

The major policies being observed by this department are as follows:

Increase in the quantity of number of women’s NGOs throughout the country

Increase in the quality of women’s NGOs

Identifying abilities, strong points and talents existing in NGOs and asking for their

cooperation in solving the problems and obstacles created for women.

Participation of NGOs in Decision-Makings

Along with the social and cultural development programs, the Islamic Republic of

Iran mainly intends to eradicate centralization, decrease the dominance of government,

give tasks to the public and strengthen the NGOs. According to paragraph D

of article 158 of the third development program, the Center for Women’s

Participation is obliged to use the services of women in financial, legal, consultative,

training and sport fields and also to give priority to women living in undeveloped

or underdeveloped areas and also to create the proper field to establish NGOs.

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It should also report to the executive bodies or the government for any cases needing

approval so that these points can be implemented through affiliated organization.

Projects and Bills Recommended by Women

Those projects and bills suggested mostly by the Women Commission of the

Islamic Parliament are about promoting the decision making and increasing power

and some of them have already been approved by the Islamic Parliament. Some of

them are as follows:

Membership of women in councils and unions

Law for exchange of venue during judgment task. According to this law the married

women who have judicial position can find a job in the permanent address of

their husbands.

Omitting the condition of being married for female university students who are

willing to be dispatched abroad.

Government’s Actions

Presence of two women in the Cabinet and appointment of one woman as the

Deputy to the President and Head of the Department of Environment and also

appointment of women as Advisors to the President in women affairs, politics and

press, counselor to the governor throughout the country, appointment of 4 women

as the Deputies to Ministers, appointment of women as the head of District, Deputy

to the Governor and Director General of 4 positions in the Centers of Provinces,

appointment of counselor to the Head of Province in women affairs and also

Secretary of Women and Youth Committee

Active participation of women in established committees (almost 25 committees)

53.8 percent growth in the number of candidate women in the latest election of the

Islamic Parliament

154.87 percent growth in the number of women being members of Islamic Councils

in cities and villages

Implementing and supporting the research projects regarding the development of

political participation of women

Presenting and following up the project to upgrade the situation of management for

women and sending it to the government delegation

Compiling the political indicators and also gathering gender-sensitive statistics

Holding capacity building training for managers and also practical skills of women

in order to participate at international forums

Establishing Women commission in the Parliament and changing it to the Faction

of Women in the 6th round of Parliament

Creating field for women being candidates of the High Council in Provinces and

Consultative Committees of the Government

Preparation of political profiles for women in provinces in order to do programming

for promotion of their political participation.

Women’s NGOs Activities

98 activities are being done by some women’s NGOs focused on the membership

of women in decision making procedures at local level.

Acquiring representation in order to increase the credit of their activities to make

their own NGO more effective

Creating institutions, networks and working groups for lobbying, dialogue and

negotiation with governmental sectors

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of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Efforts to register more national days in order to create atmosphere for more effectiveness

Holding seminars with participation of decision makers or participation in the seminars

held in governmental sectors

Participating or holding training courses with the presence of directors to influence

on senior directors of the country

Creating connection with governmental institutions for more impact through meetings

with the authorities.

Membership in Commissions and governmental organization specially at local level

Signing agreements with governmental organizations

Candidacy of some active women in civil society and NGOs for some governmental

positions in small cities and appointment of individuals for these positions

Presenting articles in governmental seminar

Management in supervising some of the governmental projects through a women’s


Implementing of projects

Management for supervising some governmental project by women’s NGO

Women’s NGOs have had more participation in decision-making procedures and

have been more active in this field.

Most connecting and lobbying activities are dedicated to the participation in decision-

making procedure meanwhile in service giving fields, the least portion has

been given to this section.

Successfulness of these organizations in participating in decision-making procedures

is due to their high sense of responsibility. And also their attention to women

governmental institutions through consultation with NGOs in decision making procedures.

One of the other reasons is that since the beginning of the Revolution, the gap

between the governmental decision makers and those active in non-governmental

activities has been very little and even many women have entered the management

position through NGOs and have non-governmental background.

Long background of many active women in civil society of the country, relies in

their beliefs in social participation and also the policy of the Revolution and their

interference with the realities of the society.

This has caused them to be more expert and advanced than the new generation of

women who are managers and high-ranking decision-makers in women affairs. This

is the reason that the base of many successful projects for women in governmental

level has been due to the creativity of NGOs.

Although Women’s NGOs do not have the necessary facilities to reach their mass

goals and they lack information dissemination and access to information sources

and this is the reason that their active output is very little. One of the main reasons

for this is the lack of an organizational mechanism in creating continuous relationship

with lawmakers of the Parliament and members of urban and rural Councils.

Also the non-visibility of borders between political activities from social activities

causes them to prevent participation in affairs such as election or preventing practical

criticism on the implementing method of communities regarding their actions in

participation of women in politics.

CNWN Activities

Dispatch of Representatives from NGOs to regional and international meetings

Holding common specialized meetings with organizations involved in women

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Designing and acting towards getting consultative positions with policy making,

programming and Executive organizations of the country

Request for the consultative position and also presence of women’s NGOs as supervisors

in the social discussions from the Organization of Islamic Conference.

Designing and acting towards national charter of women’s NGOS in the Islamic

Republic of Iran

Designing and acting towards creating a non-governmental system organization in

the Islamic Republic of Iran

Increasing the number of members of the network from 70 organization to 200.

Fourth National Development Plan

Developing the multi-lateral participation of all Iranians on the basis of equal rights

for citizens in decision making system

Decision making and executive management of the country

Challenges and Constraints

- Existence of non-identified standards in specifying the rate of capability among

women and men for management positions

Necessity of clear accountability of selected Members and Directors regarding their

commitments towards women

Weakness of facilities in communities in order to strengthen the political participation

of women

The motto of only men in lobbying and formal political decision makings

Lack of sensitivities among mass media to facilitate the management of women and

also to describe their abilities

Denying the ability and capacity of many experienced and expert women. Because

the existing government has four year programes in which only some of the abilities

and capacities of women in managerial level are being used as national stable

sources and credits.

Methods of using women in consultation level that has wrong religions base.

Lack of self-confidence and self-belief among most women to have managerial and

sensitive positions

Low number of candidate women in the elections of both Parliament or Islamic

Councils of cities and villages

Low number of women in managerial and decision making levels

Lack of special facilities and possibilities for women to balance the working life

with family life

Recommendation to Government

Creating a fair view to select male and female managers considering their capabilities,

since women are trying harder to have equal positions due to some religious


Upgrading sensitivity among governmental authorities to balance gender issues and

guaranteeing fair access of women to decision making structures

Creating mechanism in the structure of the government in order to supervise and

evaluate the progress of women

Analysis and distributing the quality and quantity results regarding men and women

in Ministries.

Taking actions in election systems in order to encourage political communities to

consider women at the same level as men

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Reviewing the different effect of election systems on the political participation of

women in different levels and studying the above systems for revision or balancing

Encouraging women to interfere with different levels of decision making

Vocating the ability to rule and also creating self confidence and sense of social participation

among disabled women, tribal minorities and refugees

Advertising the participation of women and men in jobs and also the responsibility

of parents to upgrade the participation of women in routing life and also to parallelism

the working life with the family life. This can be done with the help of religious

leaders and also local councils in small cities and villages

Recommendation to Women’s NGOs

Supervising the access of women to higher levels of decision making and introducing

eligible women to have governmental positions

Requesting governmental sectors regarding the presence of NGOs Representatives

in delegations being dispatched to international conferences and inter-sectoral decision

making and consultative delegations

Creating and establishing the unity of women through information dissemination,

training and sensitizing activities in order to upgrade the sense of mass participation

in decision makings

Creating accountability responsibility among governmental authorities towards

their actions regarding women

Creating capacity building courses in order to create leadership and social participation

among women and girls

Encouraging men to participate in related activities

Developing life skills regarding participation of all family members in family activities


The women in our country have had sensitive positions in the last decade. They

have been Deputy to the President, Deputy to the Minister and Commander, The

members of the Parliament. Despite these successes, they have less portions comparing

to the men whereas they are exactly half of the population in this country.

Upgrading their education level compared to those of men has been the cause for

their success and their entry in decision making positions. They have also been able

to get official appointments. These successes have been due to their capabilities.

On the other hand, the actions of the government in the field of women participation

in decision makings has a long distance with the perspective of 20 years of the

fourth program of the country.

Therefore, upgrading the portion of women in decision making and power needs not

only a revision in governmental procedures through the fourth development program

and the legal charter but also a national movement to reduce the obstacles

caused by the strength of men. The increase in the portion of women in this field

specially during the last decade has been based on the indicators mentioned in the

Beijing Platform for Action.

Women in Power and Decision-Making

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the Communication Network of

Women's NGOs of the I.R.I

Tables and Graphs:

Women in Power and Decision-Making

98 National Beijing+10 Report of

the Communication Network of

Women's NGOs of the I.R.I

Women in Power and Decision-Making

99 National Beijing+10 Report of

the Communication Network of

Women's NGOs of the I.R.I