Iran's female minister was sacked, but not because of her gender

When it comes to the international media, they certainly want you to take home a distorted image of Iran.

Ovais Ahmed January 02, 2013
When it comes to the international media, they certainly want you to take home a distorted image of Iran. Consider the recent sacking of Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi, the Iranian health minister from Ahmadinejad’s cabinet.

This is how the incident has been reported by most global news organisations, including those who claim to be champions of objective journalism.
“Iran sacks sole female minister from health post.” – BBC

“Iran’s only female cabinet minister sacked.” – The Guardian

“Iran’s only female cabinet minister fired.” – New York Times

“Iran’s Ahmadinejad sacks only female minister.” – Al Jazeera

Anyone who goes through these headlines would link the story to the suppression of women’s rights in Iran under their current ruler. But anyone who reads the details of the story will see such a link is simply not there. The fairly straightforward reason is tucked in after the 'sole female minister' narrative at the top of the stories:
"...the dismissal is being linked to her call for drug price rises to fight shortages caused by international sanctions." – BBC

"Dastjerdi's dismissal was criticised in parliament, where Ahmadinejad has been accused of concentrating power in his own hands." – The Guardian

"Iran’s president on Thursday dismissed his health minister, the only woman to serve in the cabinet since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, after she publicly criticized the government’s response to acute shortages of medicine imports, an indirect consequence of the Western sanctions imposed on the country." – New York Times

"Dastjerdi allegedly pulled rank on her co-workers for failing to provide funds to import vital medicines."  – Al Jazeera

The sacking of Dastjerdi was not on the basis of her gender or the fact that she was the only female minister in the cabinet.

It was a clear case of a difference of opinion between the president and the minister that resulted in her removal from the cabinet. Even a male minister would have faced similar consequences for disagreeing with the president.

Note, the international press did not credit Ahmedinejad for himself proposing the appointment of Dastjerdi. No one hailed him for bringing in a highly qualified female minister. In fact, numerous articles were published stating Dastjerdi, as a hard-liner, would do no good for Iran.

Incidents of ministers being removed from their portfolios are not uncommon. As far as the sacking of female ministers is concerned, David Cameron almost did the same thing when he sacked 60 per cent women ministers of his parliament in September this year. Three out of five female ministers, including the only Muslim woman Sayeeda Warsi, were treated in the same way as Iran’s Dastjerdi.

Iran is just one example of a country that is being vilified by the tactical use of the media. Every action of its leader is strategically presented in a way that misleads the general public.

This misleading information from ‘reliable sources creates a world view that favours a few and goes against 'the others'.

Those others were the Nazis and Soviets historically, but now range from the Cubans, Venezuelans and North Koreans to Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan today.

Read more by Ovais here. 

Correction: This post earlier stated that Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi was the first female minister of Iran. The error is regretted.


Ovais Ahmed A producer for Express News.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Khan Bhai | 11 years ago | Reply @Pessimist: Most sensible people do, and sometimes I do not blame them. There are very few Muslim countries which are respected by the world. Off the top of my head, I can only think of Malaysia and Turkey. Anyone else have some examples? P.s: Money does not equal success & respect.. You are providing basis for hatred that didn't exist before 9/11? Yes, I am suppose to believe this explanation as reasonable. No hate of any kind is reasonable and you providing justification is just pathetic..
Irfan Ali | 11 years ago | Reply @ignorantways: My Dear, re read your comments on this topic. U started diverting from the topic and me just reacted to that. I have more information about active women politicians of Iran. You should enhance your knowledge of iranian women MNAs. They are directly elected instead of reserved seats. They lose too because it is elections and not selections!!! Read news, comments and books on Iranian women parliamentarians and other eminent figures. I don't have divine knowledge about Iran. But, I too get information through the sources u can get if u want so. Sometimes 14, women were elected to the Parliament and sometimes their numbers lessened. I would not name them for the reason I wrote that to ignorant say good bye. However, to other readers, Masoumeh Ebtikar was first woman vice president of Iran. Fatima Jawadi is still Vice President of Ahmedinejad government. Nasrin Sultankhwah is member of the cabinet. To ingorwantways: U started preaching false image so u must tolerate the right and correct answers. Please don't advise me where I should write. This is not the forum for u to misinform the readers. Should u stop cheating people I have no problem with u. Read Newton's every action has a reaction. So, don't act irresponsibly. What I wrote was a just reaction to the unjust actions of some including you. So, stop disseminating false things.
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