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What does the nuclear deal mean for women in Iran?


Prominent Iranian women weigh in on historic nuclear deal

By Purvi Thacker on April 3, 2015

A landmark agreement was reached on Thursday in Switzerland when diplomats from the United States, Iran and five other world powers announced that they had agreed upon a framework for Iran’s nuclear program.

The deal will require Iran to limit sensitive nuclear activities by reducing its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98 percent and significantly scale back its number of installed centrifuges, according to the plan.

In return, the United States, the United Nations and the European Union have agreed to lift sanctions that have crippled the country’s economy for years. While the deal will be finalized in late June, the announcement was seen as promising by a majority of Iranians both in the country and elsewhere, who erupted with joy both on social media and the streets. The deal was received with elation as people from the country viewed it as a sign of optimism and a new beginning. It trended on Twitter with the hashtag #IranTalks. Some, however, expressed skepticism.

Women in the World spoke to a few prominent Iranian women about their reactions to the deal and their hopes for the country.

Negar Mortazavi, Popular Iranian-American Journalist & Commentator

The general feeling of all Iranian men and women alike is that of happiness as people were hoping for this for a long time. The nuclear standoff impacted Iranians in the country as it was an economic and financial issue and their day-to-day livelihood depended on it. On a deeper level it was a major player contributing to the isolation of Iran from the rest of the world and this had a tremendous toll on the lives of the citizens.

So from the photos and videos coming out online, it seemed that people of all ages, and from urban as well as smaller cities were happy. As I see it, the nuclear standoff was also a major mandate of President Rouhani when he was running his campaign and many people voted for him on this premise. It’s good to see that he has fulfilled his promise and once this is executed properly, it will provide him with an upper hand against hardliners.

Hopefully this will be a stepping-stone for him to achieve other social and political issues like women’s rights and involvement of youth, and also issues with the Internet. Once outside pressures have quelled, then only can internal issues flourish and be pushed towards change.

Haleh Esfandiari, Director of the Middle East Program at the Wilson Center in Washington DC

For Iranian women a nuclear deal will mean relief from their daily economic hardships. Women in Iran, as in other countries, are usually in charge of the family budget and family well-being. In recent years, because of the sanctions imposed on Iran, women have had a hard time providing adequately for their families, especially among lower-income groups.  They will welcome and embrace any deal that will ease economic conditions.

Women, I think, also hope a nuclear deal that leads to a relaxation of tensions with the U.S. and the international community will also lead to a relaxation of the many social restrictions they face at home.

Mana Kharrazi, Nonprofit leader and educator based in New York and Executive Director of Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB), the largest Iranian-American grassroots organization dedicated to community building and youth empowerment. Prior to IAAB, Mana was a Field Organizer at Amnesty International USA. Mana’s expertise is in the Iranian diaspora, community organizing and youth leadership development

The historic nuclear agreement will hopefully usher in a new era in US-Iran relations. It is my hope that this agreement allows for a heightened level of understanding and cultural exchange between Iranians and Americans. The Iranian people have struggled under sanctions and worked tirelessly for this agreement to come into existence. I am overjoyed for them and for our community in the United States. We can finally move past our history and look toward a peaceful future that allows for greater cooperation and understanding.

Farideh Farhi, Affiliate Graduate Faculty of Political Science at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. She has written extensively about Iranian politics and foreign policy

This framework agreement is a first but important step signaling a change of direction in Iran’s relations with the world. The agreement, although still preliminary and certainly not without bumps in its final implementation, suggests that Iran has been willing to accept limitations beyond expectations in exchange for other opportunities that allow the country to benefit from improved scientific, cultural, an political interactions with many more countries than in the past. The immediate impact on the situation of women is not readily apparent.

At the same time, from my point of view, just the mere fact of threat reduction and relaxation of the economic sanctions noose creates more opportunities and space for various civil society groups, including those active in women’s economic, social, and political rights issues, to become more assertive with less fears of the charge that they are being influenced by “enemy” values and agitations. The fact that the Iranian public has responded positively to the agreement is also a sign that it is ready to move on to and tackle other issues of concern to them.

Narges Bajoghli is a researcher, writer, and filmmaker. As a PhD candidate in socio-cultural Anthropology at New York University and a documentary filmmaker in NYU’s Culture and Media Program, Narges’ research focuses on pro-regime cultural producers in Iran. She is the co-founder of the non-profit organization, Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB)

Women’s rights activists were one of the first civil society contingencies in Iran to call for an end to the comprehensive sanctions on the country for it’s nuclear activity. As such, the announcement on the nuclear accord yesterday is very welcomed by women’s groups in Iran. The women’s rights movement is one of the longest-standing movements for increased rights in the country and one of the biggest thorns in the side of the Islamic Republic.

Nonetheless, women’s rights activists knew that as long as the nuclear issue was outstanding, the Islamic Republic could point to international pressures as a way to silence domestic activism. This nuclear accord and the removal of sanctions will allow women’s rights activists to continue their work for increased rights

Other Iranian women, expressed themselves on Twitter.

Los Angeles-based historian Nina Ansary, PhD and expert in the Women’s Movement in Iran and the author of the upcoming book, Jewels of Allah, shared her thoughts

But Nervana Mahmoud, doctor, a blogger and commentator on Middle East issues was wary


The interviews have been lightly edited and condensed for space.