Aug 1, 2017, 11:09 AM
News Code: 82617134
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Iran moving towards empowering women

Tehran, Aug 1, IRNA - The news of appointing Ms. Farzaneh Sharafbafi as the Chief Executive of the national flag carrier airline of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Iran Air, by the government of President Hassan Rouhani on July 11 hit the headlines of media across the world.

The majority of reports on the appointment highlighted the head being a female. The India Times, for instance, in its report described the appointment as 'a breath fresh air'.
'Farzaneh Sharafbafi stands a towering example of women empowerment in the country,' it read.

The American Airways magazine referred to the decision as an example of President Hassan Rouhani's government practice of 'women empowerment' by appointing them to top positions.

One Mile At A Time, a Western blog specializing in aviation, gave statistics on women presence in the 'predominantly male' industry to prove the decision was an iconoclasm. 'Only about 5% of pilots in the US are female, the number is much lower in many foreign countries. Much of the same is true of the executive leadership at airlines,' the blog said.

According to Forbes' report covering the appointment, a 2014 survey found that only 12 of the 248 airlines it looked at had a female leader'.

The public opinion within Iran also regards the appointment a bright decision promising a move towards striking a balance in power distribution in Iranian state organizations.

Iran Air head's educational background and experience in aviation boosts the assumption that she has been chosen based on her merits, rather than any political or personal connections.

Dr. Sharafbafi, 44, has been working at Iran Air for more than 20 years in various posts. She had her degrees from bachelor of mechanic engineering to Ph.D of aerospace engineering from Sharif University of Technology. Being awarded as the best researcher and research manager in the ministry of Roads and Urban Development, she has proved her capabilities in the field.

Although her abilities and qualifications nullifies any claim that her appointment has been a form of favoritism, what makes the choice more significant is the promising meaning it conveys to Iranian women; they are now encouraged to be more steadfast in their beliefs that their years of hardships in the tight competition of the Iranian academic community, their efforts to establish their social identity and their abilities, especially those that they have strived to nurture, not just gifted by nature, would not be ignored.

The feelings would inspire Iranian women as the half complementary part of the society, whose growing presence in public sphere and in social events is definitely an irreversible process, to take longer steps to construct their country and more active roles in Iran and Iranians' prosperity.

Seeing such moves towards meritocracy will certainly lessen their frustration and boost their hope that Iranian women and girls would not be any longer denied job opportunities and promotions just because of their gender; rather, their society is moving toward recognizing the women's role in society and respects their due rights, including taking over the posts that are consistent with their dignity and abilities.

The rays of hope on women's rights and the prospect of utilizing this huge source of energy in keeping the wheel of country turning became more enhanced by President Rouhani when he denounced discrimination against women in assigning roles and responsibilities.

He has also suggested a quota for women in 'some managerial posts' and promised that in his government, known as 'Prudence and Hope', gender would not be a criterion.
Rouhani has vowed to provide equal opportunities for men and women, and now his constituents, 50 percent of which might be female, are looking forward to see if he is keeping his promises in terms of the new cabinet line-up.

*Ms. Mahdokht Pazoki is a member of IRNA English News Desk staff