Is the Islamic Republic capable of accommodating gender reform? What does the election of reformist President Hassan Rouhani mean for the country’s women? And after one year in office, has his government offered a meaningful response to the ‘woman question’? This paper examines the socio-political climate around women and their position in Iranian society inherited by the Rouhani administration, and analyses the extent to which Rouhani has the authority to oversee real policy change on women’s status. Through a critical review of Rouhani’s first year in office, the author argues that there are some promising signs of change, but these are up against a culture of patriarchy that is entrenched amongst Iran’s political and clerical elite, whose view of women is that of the homemaker and caregiver, with limited public agency.
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