May 30 (Bloomberg) -- Iranian presidential candidate Saeed Jalili said his nation must defend the rights of women as mothers and resist the approach of Western nations where they are counted as an “economic tool.”
“Women’s core identity lies in motherhood and her role should be defined within that framework, not in an economic context,” Jalili, who’s also Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, told a female audience at a political rally late yesterday.
Jalili, one of eight candidates cleared by Iran’s top officials for the June 14 presidential election, is considered a possible front-runner. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who’s completing his second four-year term, isn’t eligible to run.
Western nations are proponents of individuality while in Islam the focus is on the family, Jalili said, according to the state-run Fars news agency.
“The West says society should work to its full potential, and since women constitute half of the population, their work power cannot be ignored and should be included in the economic cycle,” Jalili said.
“Making use of women as an object and lowering her greatness to the level of a workforce and economic tool is very different from how they are viewed in Islam,” Jalili said. “We are backers of women’s rights, especially in comparison to the West.”
About 52 percent of Iranian university students who graduated in 2009 were women, according to data published by the UN Education Scientific and Cultural Organization. Sixty-eight percent of science graduates were women, Paris-based UNESCO said.
In 2011, women in Iran accounted for 27 percent of the workforce, the Tehran Times reported. While women are culturally not seen as responsible for contributing to a family’s income, in many cases men are in effect no longer the sole breadwinner.
Ahmadinejad also argued that a woman’s most important job is “at home” and that mothers have an “elevated role in society.” In 2008, he proposed a plan for married women’s working days to be cut by two hours, and by an additional hour with the birth of each child, with no change to salary.
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