Monday 05 October 2015

Women in Iran Are Ready to Show They Mean Business

Iranian money manager Mona Hajialiasghar got her first big career break the same year the world took notice of her country's nuclear ambitions.

Thirteen years after starting out as an asset manager in Tehran, she's chief operating officer of Kardan Investment Bank, which oversees about $300 million invested in Iran. As her country edges toward an historic agreement that promises to plug it back into the global economy, she already sees more women joining her.

"The presence of women in Iran in the workplace and in higher education is much more serious now compared to when I first started," said Hajialiasghar, 35, who has a master's degree in business management from Iran's all-female Alzahra University. "With younger women entering the market, firstly their numbers are much higher, but also their confidence is much higher."
Iran is counting on the accord curbing its nuclear program to unleash billions of dollars in investment from the U.S. and Europe. As companies expand, women are ready to make gains in a way few of their peers can in the Gulf Arab world and narrow the gap with western nations.

Sweet Spot

While women have been legally obliged to cover their hair and observe Islamic rules of modesty in clothing since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, they have never faced limitations when it comes to driving, voting and access to education. They also occupy some top political jobs – three of President Hassan Rouhani's vice presidents are women.

The nuclear deal "means economic empowerment for women in Iran," said Suzanne DiMaggio, director of the Iran Initiative at New America Foundation in New York, a not-for-profit research organization. "Already today there are more women than men studying at Iranian universities, and they also work for a living and can own businesses and vote, so once sanctions are lifted and Iran reintegrates into the global economy, that should help women."

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