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U.N. members vote in favor of allowing Iran to join women's rights commission

The secret ballot vote has left many demanding to know which governments gave their support to a country with a history of degrading women in society.

Updated: April 23, 2021 - 11:22pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The United Nations Economic and Social Council voted through a secret ballot election on Thursday to allow Iran to join the women's rights commission for the next four years.

The goal of the Commission on the Status of Women is to promote gender equality and empower women worldwide. However, Iran has been known to consider women as second-class citizens, drawing questions about which nations supported the effort. 

The Middle East country received 43 out of the 54 votes from the U.N.-member countries that attended the Economic and Social Council meeting.

While 11 countries did not give their support, there were 15 European Union and Western group members who voted including Australia, Canada, France the U.K. and the U.S., meaning some more developed or westernized countries were OK with Iran's women's rights history. 

"Electing the Islamic Republic of Iran to protect women’s rights is like making an arsonist into the town fire chief," said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, the Geneva-based human rights group. 

The U.N. secretary general has previously acknowledged the "serious concern" regarding human rights in Iran, writing in a report last year that the international body has received complaints of torture "as well as persistent discrimination against women, girls and minorities."

“A regime that treats women as second class citizens, jails them for not wearing the compulsory hijab, bans them from singing, bars them from stadiums and doesn’t let them travel abroad without the permission of their husbands gets elected to the UN’s top women’s rights body," tweeted Iranian women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad.