If you are still having a hard time digesting the news that the U.N. designated Israel the world’s number one violator of women’s rights, here’s something else to chew on: Iran will take a seat on the executive board of the U.N.’s Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women come next January.
CNS reports that the assignment was made without fanfare, but in a letter to the U.N. Human Rights Council last month, thirty-six human rights groups noted Iran’s abysmal rights record, which includes “widespread and systematic discrimination [against women] in law and practice.”
CNS reports on the letter:
“Official policies aimed at restricting female employment and encouraging women to stay at home and pursue ‘traditional’ roles as wives and mothers continued,” they said, also citing laws that discriminate against women in areas such as marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance.
The groups also recalled that a peaceful protest in Tehran last October against a spate of acid attacks against women and girls ended with security agents assaulting and arresting some of the participants.
Iran was sixth from the bottom among more than 140 countries assessed by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in its most recent annual “Global Gender Gap” report. The report measures gaps between women and men in the areas of political empowerment, economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, and health and survival.
The vote for the seats on the women’s entity is secret. U.S. U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power reported after it was taken that Iran got a relatively low level of support for the women’s slot—though, whatever that level was, Iran does get the position. Still, Power said:
“The low vote total that Iran received today testifies to the deep concerns U.N. member states have about Iran assuming a position on the board of U.N. Women,” she said in a statement.
“In Iran, women are legally barred from holding some government positions, there are no laws against domestic violence, and adultery is punishable by stoning, making it wholly inappropriate that Iran assume a leadership role on women’s rights and welfare at the U.N.,” Power said.
“Deep concerns.” That’s certainly putting it mildly.
U.S. taxpayers foot the bill for 22 percent of the U.N.’s regular operating budget, in addition to millions we give for various U.N. agencies. For fiscal 2016, our State Department has requested $7.7 million for the U.N.’s activities regarding women.