Iranians want Tehran removed from UN commission for women's rights

US-drafted resolution says the country's policies are 'flagrantly contrary' to efforts to champion gender equality

A protester carries a portrait of Mahsa Amini during an anti-Iran protest in Berlin, Germany. EPA
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Iranians are hoping that their country will be removed from a UN commission on women's rights during a vote on Wednesday.

The US-drafted resolution calls for Iran to be immediately removed from the UN Commission on the Status of Women, which it joined in March.

The UN's Economic and Social Council will vote on the motion on Tuesday afternoon.

Iran's policies run “flagrantly contrary to the human rights of women and girls and to the mandate of the Commission on the Status of Women”, read the draft resolution.

The move comes at a time when Iran continues to clamp down on protests sparked by the death of Kurdish-Iranian woman Mahsa Amini in the custody of its morality police three months ago.

The demonstrations, initially sparked by anger over Iran's restrictions on women, are now calling for the downfall of the regime that has ruled the country since 1979.

Two people have already been executed for participating in the protests, both cases drawing outcry at home and abroad.

One Iranian wrote online that she would “lose all my hope in all human rights organisations” if the Iranian regime was not expelled from the Commission on the Status of Women today.

Diplomats told Reuters that Iran could be removed from the commission with immediate effect, with a US official saying they had “consistently seen growing support” for the motion.

Actresses Nazanin Nour, Nazanin Boniadi and lawyer Gissou Nia have spearheaded efforts within the US to have Iran removed, following calls from women inside the country.

On Tuesday, an Instagram account belonging to leading activist Narges Mohammedi published a list of female activists calling for Tehran to be removed from the commission.

Several of them, including Ms Mohammedi herself, are currently in prison on politically motivated charges.

“We, the signatories of this letter, demand the United Nations commission for women to dismiss the Islamic republic government for its violence against women and suppression of women's protests,” the post said.

The account is run by Ms Mohammedi's husband.

Tehran, which is due to sit on the commission until 2026, “does not support the principles and objectives that the CSW is mandated to promote”, said Impact Iran, a coalition of human rights groups.

“The CSW’s membership provides Iranian authorities with a platform to pay lip service to women’s rights and shamelessly join its name to the CSW’s initiatives while violently oppressing and suppressing women and girls at home,” it said.

Iran is mounting pressure on academics to appeal to global bodies to stop the vote, Iran International, a TV station based in London, reported on Wednesday.

It said academics had been sent sample letters touting gender equality in Iran and the involvement of foreign powers in the protests.

What is the UN commission?

The Commission on the Status of Women was set up in 1946 and “is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women”.

It is instrumental in promoting the rights of women, documenting the reality of women's lives around the world and “shaping global standards”, according to the UN.

Its 45 members are elected on four-year terms, and include 13 members from Africa and 11 from Asia.

Some of the countries on the commission include Afghanistan, Turkey, Egypt, Russia and Pakistan.

Iran was appointed to the body by secret ballot in March after being nominated in the previous year, drawing the ire of human rights groups and activists.

“The unopposed candidacies of countries that engage in torture, abuse, and violations of human rights and due process was a troubling feature of this election,” a US State Department representative told Voice of America after the vote.

Iran had previously sat on the committee from 2016 to 2019.

Updated: December 14, 2022, 12:03 PM