Mahboube Hoseinzadeh, a 39-year-old journalist, is on the front lines of the women’s rights movement in Iran, a theocratic society dominated by men.
In 2007, she was jailed twice in Tehran’s Evin Prison with other activists for mounting a campaign, the One Million Signatures movement, which tried to raise public awareness about the need for equal treatment of the country’s 40 million women.
Just this April, she lost her job at an Iranian women’s magazine, Zanan-e Emrooz, which means Women of Today in Persian, after the magazine ran an article on the increasing practice of young Iranian couples living together outside of marriage.
The country’s Media Supervisory Board summarily shut down the publication, and since then, Ms. Hoseinzadeh said she and the other staff members have been waiting to see if the publication’s editor in chief can convince the authorities to reopen her employer.
So it was with joy, tinged with skepticism, that Ms. Hoseinzadeh and her colleagues learned earlier this month of their country’s historic nuclear deal with the West, which boosted hope of a further opening of Iranian society, including, perhaps, better rights for women.
“When they reached a deal, I couldn’t stop crying,’’ Ms. Hoseinzadeh said in a Skype interview with Handelsblatt Global Edition. “During these heavy and inhuman sanctions, ordinary Iranian people have suffered a lot because of a shortage of medicine and rising prices.”
But on whether the deal will improve her plight and women like her, Ms. Hoseinzadeh said: “I think it is a little soon to predict.’’
Compared with Western countries, women in Iran lead sharply restricted lives, although not as restricted as in some Arab Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia, where they are forbidden to drive. In Persian Iran, women can drive, but they can’t attend public sporting events, and are largely shut out of the country’s male-dominated power structure.
Unemployment among women in Iran is about 20 percent, according to estimates by the World Bank, and many have jobs on the black market. When Ms. Hoseinzadeh walks the streets of Tehran, she wears the hijab, the head scarf, because it is the law.
If she doesn’t, she said passersby will eventually remind her. If she ignores them and is caught by the country’s roving religious police, she will be arrested, she said.