Friday, May 22, 2009

Women and elections

After the "Sois-belle et vote" turmoil, adnkronos an Iranian presidential candidate, Mohsen Rezaie, also targets women. But Mohsen on the other hand is not just stating that pretty women should vote [for him], he is pledging to pay house-wives for being housewives.

Women are often an ignored minority in most society, and even more in the Middle East. In our patriarchal systems, it is the man's eyes that see the world, therefore a virtuous man would have virtuous eyes that don't give women indecent attention. Which often leads to women getting no attention at all.
But in fact we are there, in societies like Lebanon and Iran, women have almost equal chances of education and unsurprisingly they are eager to get an education. So we fill up universities, in Lebanon I can't really find statistics (if someone has information about this issue it would be greatly apreciated), but if we were to believe adnkronos, then about 70% of annual graduates in Iran are women.
These female graduates are not translated into the money generating sector. Why? Stupid tradition, gender-based underpayment, sexual harassment, lack of social support for family units... The list is long, too long even. But the truth on the ground is that women often end up as housewife (aka overworked, underrespected, unpaid individuals for the great majority).
This is exactly what Rezaie is talking about and/or exploiting. Women are educated and they are housewives, if he can draw their attention and convince them to vote for him then he is winning the votes of a a very big target group.
Resaie is not the first one to see this potential in women. The issue is how to convince the women to vote for him. And that is one of the three interesting points about this statement.
Resaie wants to pay women for being housewives, is he trying to appeal to women? Is he trying to improve women's status? That is not certain, in the end, upperclass society doesn't care if women make money or not. It is the working class that would care the most. So in fact, Resaie is appealing more to the more deprived layers of the iranian society rather than women per se.
And the million dollar question is: Hypothetically speaking, if Resaie wins the presidency and implements this plan, will that improve women's situation in Iran?
The answer is unfortunately no. Women's will not have a better life if their work at home is validated more. The problem is not that women's work is not legally rewarded (afterall, Islam does valorize women's labor and imposes on her man to pay her). The real issue is that women are just housewives. Framing housewiness into a money-generating business will reinforce that idea, women will be even more forced into becoming housewives and sexists will have an additional argument to convince women they should stay at home.
Hm, this is even trickier than I initially thought :)


Parabola said...

check this out:

pakistani said...

well I am not against the job of women, in fact I am also working but I think mostly we underestimate the job of a house wife. The whole home and all the issues revolve round her and I think its the women who underrate themselves and that's why got discriminated and I have seen many cases of self destruction while I was working for 70-642, 642-812, 642-845.

certificationkey said...

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