A great interview between Leslie Stahl and Christiane Ahmanpour. This is worth absorbing:

The women have been a very dominant factor in Iran throughout the ages. It sounds counterintuitive because in some instances, in the court of law, no matter what law we’re talking about – criminal, divorce, inheritance, child custody, etc. – women count for only half of a man. But in society women have been very strong, and women have had a much more vibrant, participatory role in Iran than in any other of the countries around that region, including so many of the countries the United States calls friends and allies. And ever since the beginning, 30 years ago during the revolution, women were out on the streets en masse. Because it then became an Islamic society, traditional men could not keep the women out of the public sphere anymore, couldn’t keep their girls from going to school, because now it was an Islamic society and there was no reason to do that. So now 65 percent of university students are women. Women are in all sorts of spheres of professional endeavor.

Women drive, they vote, they can hold a public position. Now, 34 million women are in Iran right now, out of a population of 70 million. Zahra Rahnavard, who is the wife of Mousavi, campaigned with her husband – a completely unusual experience. There’s never been such a thing where women campaigned with their husbands. It was a very sort of American, political sort of hand-me-down. And she ran with it. And she and her husband vowed that if they won there would be women in the Cabinet for the first time, they would lobby for reform of the law and the legal process so that women had their rights in a court of law, as well as in the rest of society.

Faezeh Rafsanjani, who is the daughter of Hashemi Rafsanjani – I’ve been interviewing her for years. She was the head of the Olympic Committee, she’s been very, very active in women’s affairs and youth affairs in Iran. And she, again, is active right now. You know, she was arrested briefly on Saturday and then released. She’s a very powerful woman and has represented Iran in sports and, as I said, the Olympic Committee often. And go back to 1997 when the first Reformist President, Mohammed Khatami, was elected. It was the women and the young people of Iran that put him over the top. So, yes, the women have a huge, huge role to play and they’re getting more and more demanding because their numbers are growing and they won’t … and their demands are growing as well. And each of the candidates opposing Ahmadinejad, whether it was Mousavi or Karrubi or even Mohsen Rezaee, the Conservative. Each one said that they would pay attention to women’s rights if they were elected. So it is a very important movement.

(Photo: Behrouz Mehri/Getty.)

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