Iran is a member of the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women – a group promoting gender equality and female empowerment – even as protests sparked by the nation’s Islamic law forcing women to cover themselves rage across the country.
The Islamic Republic of Iran, where the legal age for girls to marry is 13, began a four-year term this year on the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women, which is “instrumental in … shaping global standards on gender equality,” according to its website.
Human rights groups recently condemned Iran for deadly crackdowns on nationwide protests stemming from its oppression of women. The protests, described as one of the most serious challenges ever to the Islamic regime, ignited after a 22-year-old woman, arrested for improperly wearing her hijab, died in the custody of Iran’s “morality police.”
The U.S., a member since 2020, is working to remove Iran from the commission, Vice President Kamala Harris announced this week, calling the country “unfit to serve.”
“Iran’s very presence discredits the integrity of its membership and the work to advance its mandate,” she said, adding that the U.S. will “work with our partners to remove Iran from the UN Commission on the Status of Women.”
The same day, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield echoed Harris’ remarks at an informal U.N. Security Council meeting on the Iran protests.
“The commission cannot do its work when it is being undermined from within,” she said. “Iran’s membership is an ugly stain on the commission’s credibility. In our view, it cannot stand.”
Urging nations not to attend that meeting, Iran’s U.N. ambassador wrote a letter saying the U.S. “has no true and genuine concern” about human rights, Reuters reported. He said the protests were an internal issue that it would be “counterproductive to the promotion of human rights” to discuss.
Iran was elected to the commission on a secret ballot in 2021, with 43 of 54 nations on the U.N. Economic and Social Council voting for it, according to Voice of America. The commission’s 45 members are elected based on equitable geographic distribution, according to the U.N.
U.S. officials were quiet about Iran’s election at the time, VOA reported. But the fact that its membership was voted on, not rubber-stamped, was thanks to pressure from the Biden administration, according to Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.