Calls grow to kick Iran out of UN body dedicated to equality and empowerment of women

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Women and girls of Iran are leading the most significant challenge to the existence of the Islamic Republic of Iran in this century, according to veteran experts of Iran. 

Their opposition to the theocratic state and its radical Islamic law requiring head coverings for women has drawn sharp criticism with respect to Tehran’s role on the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women.

The Geneva-based watchdog organization, UN Watch, said Iran’s clerical regime began in March its “four-year term on the U.N.’s top women’s rights body, having been elected last year with the votes of at least four Western states.”

The U.N.’s Commission on the Status of Women is, according to its mission statement, the “principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.”

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Hundreds of women protest at the funeral of Kurdish-Iranian woman Mahsa Amini, who died while in custody of Iran's morality police after they arrested her for violations of hijab laws. 

Hundreds of women protest at the funeral of Kurdish-Iranian woman Mahsa Amini, who died while in custody of Iran’s morality police after they arrested her for violations of hijab laws. 
(Courtesy The Foreign Desk)

It remains unclear if the U.S. will energetically lead a campaign to oust Iran from the U.N. Commission. After Russia invaded Ukraine in early 2022, the U.S. organized a vote to evict Russia from the U.N. Human Rights Council due to its “gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights” in Ukraine. 

“When democracies turn a blind eye to how the U.N. mechanisms like the Commission on the Status of Women have been usurped by a regime [in Iran] that prides itself on humiliating girls and women on a daily basis, that kills girls and women for showing some strands of hair, that legalizes inequality and propagates the idea of women’s subordination through its totalitarian regulation of social life, its schools system and media, those democracies denigrate themselves,” Mariam Memarsadeghi, an Iran expert and fellow for the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, told Fox News Digital

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Iran’s notorious morality police allegedly killed the 22-year-old Iranian-Kurdish woman Masha Amini last month because she failed to properly cover her hair with a hijab. Amini’s death in police custody has sparked four weeks of ongoing protests. 

Amini’s death has struck a nerve among Iran’s young population. The deputy commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, said the average age of protesters arrested by the regime is fifteen. 

“At the very least, move to oust the regime from the Women’s Commission,” Memarsadeghi said of the Biden administration. “The U.S. should lead the world’s democracies to impose a diplomatic boycott on the gender apartheid regime. This is what Iranian political prisoners are bravely calling for and what the people of Iran deserve as they fight for a future of freedom and dignity, not only for themselves but for all the world”. 

Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old Iranian woman who was allegedly murdered by Iran's morality police.

Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old Iranian woman who was allegedly murdered by Iran’s morality police.
(Obtained by Fox News)

When asked about the Iranian regime’s role on the Women’s Commission, a State Department spokesman referred Fox News Digital to the department’s principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel, who last week said he did not have any “actions to preview.” 

He noted that “Iran’s membership on the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women is, frankly, laughable. We have been always clear that it is outrageous that some of the worst human rights abusers, like Iran, sit on certain U.N. commissions. And this is a perfect example.

“And we’ve been clear in joining the global condemnation of Iran’s violent oppression of women and the violent suppression of protests. As you saw, we were one of the 54 countries that issued a joint statement at the Human Rights Council calling for Iran to stop this violent crackdown.”

Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for Secretary-General of the U.N. António Guterres, told Fox News Digital “the secretary-general has no role whatsoever in these elections.” He noted however that “every member state has a duty to live up to the ideals they have signed onto in the Charter of the United Nations as well as Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Those who sit on these bodies have an added responsibility.”

International flags outside the United Nations headquarters in New York Sept. 20, 2021. 

International flags outside the United Nations headquarters in New York Sept. 20, 2021. 
(Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“U.N. Women does not comment on decisions by member states related to their representation at the commission,” a U.N. Women spokesperson told Fox News Digital when confronted about Tehran’s role on the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women and the Islamic Republic’s violent crackdown on women.

“U.N. Women works with all U.N. member states to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women. The Commission on the Status of Women is the global community’s premier intergovernmental body on women’s rights, and any country holding one of the 45 seats at the commission is an indication that the country is willing to actively work within the mandate of this important body and its agenda.

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“The Commission on the Status of Women is a body made up of member states. The commission has 45 members which are elected for a four-year term. As in all U.N. bodies that have fewer members than the 193 U.N. member states, membership is allocated equitably among geographical regions, and member states determine this allocation of seats. All member states of the United Nations can participate in the annual session of the commission, including in the negotiations of the agreed conclusions.” 

Manda Zand Ervin, whom President Bush appointed as the U.S. Delegate to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Woman in 2008, told Fox News Digital the commission’s statement is “verbiage.” 

“The duty [of the commission] is to protect human rights and not dictators,” Zand Ervin said. “This commission was particularly established to protect human rights of women. But everything has become political.”

She said Iran’s regime has used its “money and power” to buy the votes of Third World countries to secure a seat on the commission.

Zand Ervin also took the European democracies to task for voting for Iran’s regime to be on the commission. 

“They (the West) should not have voted for Iran,” Zand Irvin said. “Why are they covering up the names? Why would they vote for this regime, which is anti-woman, to represent Iranian women? This is shameful for Europe.”

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, center, reviews an honor guard during his official departure ceremony as he leaves Tehran's Mehrabad Airport to New York to attend annual U.N. General Assembly meeting.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, center, reviews an honor guard during his official departure ceremony as he leaves Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport to New York to attend annual U.N. General Assembly meeting.
(AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

UN Watch reported that “four of the 15 EU and Western Group democracies on ECOSOC, which include Australia, Austria, Finland, France, Latvia, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, voted for Iran. UN Watch called on lawmakers to demand that their governments reveal how they voted.”

Zand Ervin did not mince words. 

“The U.N. is a corrupt organization,” she said. “The regime is keeping them [European countries] happy by buying their products from western Europeans, especially Germany.” She stressed that it is important to classify the Islamic Republic of Iran as a “gender apartheid regime” for its laws relegating women to an inferior status. 

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Zand Ervin has spent the last 30 years working to advance the rights of Iranian women and is the author of the groundbreaking book, “The Ladies’ Secret Society: History of Courageous Women of Iran.”

“For us, it is not surprising that the women are fighting because everyone is expecting that this revolution will be by the women. That is why the regime is demonizing women. They are afraid of the power of Iranian women,” said Zand Ervin.

The U.N.’s failure to hold autocratic member states like the Islamic Republic of Iran accountable for its alleged violent misogyny has long been a focal point of criticism from Iran experts.

“The truth is that the U.N. has become a tool in the hands of the world’s most brutal regimes,” Memarsadeghi said. “It has been become the very opposite of what Eleanor Roosevelt intended — an institution to safeguard human dignity and security.

“Electing the Islamic Republic of Iran to protect women’s rights is like making an arsonist into the town fire chief,” Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, said at the time Iran won its seat on the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women.

People light a fire during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic's morality police, in Tehran, Iran September 21, 2022. 

People light a fire during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic’s morality police, in Tehran, Iran September 21, 2022. 
(West Asia News Agency via REUTERS)

“We call on the U.S., EU states and all other democracies to end their silence — regardless of any nuclear deal with Tehran — and state for the record this is absurd, morally reprehensible and an insult to the oppressed women of Iran. This is a dark day for women’s rights and for all human rights,” added Neuer.

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Fox News’ queries sent to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s foreign ministry and its U.N. mission were not answered.

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