Education is a key factor in women’s empowerment: Ebtekar

April 13, 2015

On the occasion of Women’s Day in Iran which was held at the Cultural and Historical Complex of Sa’adabad in Tehran, Masoumeh Ebtekar said on Sunday that education is an important factor for empowering women across the globe.


Among speakers commemorating Women’s Day there were also UN Resident Coordinator in Iran Gary Lewis and Director and Representative of UNESCO in Tehran Esther Kuisch Laroche.

The head of Department of Environment of Iran said that Women’s Day was initially nominated by Imam Khomeini on the birthday of the Prophet Mohammad’s daughter Fatimah Zarha.

Ebtekar said that although Fatimah lived 14 centuries ago, her personality extends beyond time, space, religion and race.

Fatimah is a role model for all humanity and an inspirational legend that stands for all time, Ebtekar said adding that her message is for all humans who struggle to find light in the dark allies of time in history.

She went on to say that unfortunately there has been effort to depict a negative and distorted image of Islam among terrorist groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the way they treat not just women but men in general in the name of Islam.

However, Ebtekar said, there are no obstacles in Islam to women’s advancement, no glass ceilings, but there are norms to protect human dignity and define women’s relations in society.

The true Islam looks forward to advancement of dignity and humanity of women, Ebtekar who is also Iran’s first vice president said.

Ebtekar noted that just like other societies, Iran is facing its challenges, “We don’t have that utopian model of woman” she added. Women face a lot of obstacles in terms of the betterment of their livelihood and advancement in Iran, she added.

However, she said, important steps have been taken in the area of education in Iran thanks to the efforts of Iranian women.

Currently, Iranian women have permeated at different layers in society like arts, sports, politics, and environment, the female official said.

“When women have better education, they also play a better role in protecting their environment and promoting environmental standards,” she said.

Ebtekar also touched on the lack of security, war and conflicts that have had great impacts on the livelihood of women and suggested better work atmosphere for them.

Another speaker in the gathering Gary Lewis, for his part, said that in 2015 the UN’s specific message to women is “empower women, empower humanity”. He touched upon the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration as one of the world’s most powerful blueprints for empowering women.

He said since that historic gathering in Beijing, there has been an increasing recognition for gender equality, a precondition for human justice, equality and peace. However, he said, 20 years after Beijing platform for action, there are still challenges ahead throughout the world.

He touched upon the importance of education attainment for women, but he said this does not translate into equal pay between men and women with the same type of job.

In politics, the UN official said, the global average of women in parliament is only 22 percent, in workforce, more women than ever before are participating, but everywhere they generally earn less than men, with little security and protection.

Lewis praised Iran and said that the country has made significant progress in promoting women’s empowerment particularly in education and health.

He explained that the UNDP gender inequality index looks at five variables for women’s empowerment: internal mortality, adolescence birthrate, secondary education, number of seats in parliament and female participation in the labor market.

According to the UNDP, Iran does well in the first three categories, but there are still challenges remaining in the other two, Lewis added.

He also encouraged men and boys to play a much greater role in empowering women and stated that doing so would benefit all humanity.

In the end, Lewis left the audience with the words of Malala Yousafzai, the world’s youngest Noble Peace Prize:
“Let us make our future now, let us make our dreams tomorrow’s reality.”

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The UN’s specific message to women this year is “empower women, empower humanity”, Gary Lewis said.

SP