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BBC: Power of Women in Iran's Election

Author: Lyse Doucet
June 10, 2009

Bolstered by the active campaigning of Mir-Hossein Mousavi's wife, Zhara Rahnavard, "women's issues [in Iran] are on the agenda as they've never been before."

Black is not the official colour of Mr Ahmedinejad's campaign, but in Iran, women's clothes make a statement.

A long black chador, which means "tent", is the garment preferred by conservative women in a country where women's head scarves and modest clothing are mandatory.

President Ahmadinejad often speaks of women as the heart of this society. He talks of empowering them and makes much of his plan to provide insurance for housewives and share Iran's oil wealth with poorer families.

But Mr Mousavi has - for Iran - an unusual political asset; his wife, Zhara Rahnavard.

She is Iran's first top-ranking female university professor and like her husband is a respected painter. Their most daring move as a couple has caused a stir - they hold hands as they campaign together.

In a BBC interview in Tehran, she described politics as art, and her choice of veil - a black chador with a flowery scarf peaking from beneath it - as a "beautiful composition."

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