President Hassan Rouhani’s latest tweet about women’s rights is a photomontage of veiled women playing sports, studying, cheering at a political rally and legislating in parliament. The strapline says: ‘Women must enjoy equal opportunity, equal protection and equal social rights’. A year ago words and images like these ignited hope; now they feel hollow.
It started off so well: the rousing speeches peppered with promises; the criticisms directed at those who disagreed; the female political appointments. Wielding a metaphorical key – his campaign symbol – Rouhani pledged to unlock the political door behind which both the economy and women were imprisoned. And Rouhani would rescue them, giving women back some of the rights that disappeared when the regime took power in 1979.