A member of Iran's constitutional watchdog group has said women cannot be presidential candidates, deleting the largely symbolic bids by about 30 women seeking to run in the June 14 election.
The semiofficial Mehr news agency quoted Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi as saying that the "law does not approve'' of a woman in the presidency and a woman on the ballot is "not allowed".
The Guardian Council, where Yazdi is a member, vets all candidates for the presidency and parliament.
A total of 686 people have registered to replace President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who cannot run for a third mandate because of term limits.
The final list will be announced on May 21, with only a handful of names expected on the ballot.
Even before the comments by Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, chances for a woman candidate in Iran's presidential election were considered nearly impossible.
Women also have registered as potential candidates in past presidential elections, but the Guardian Council appears to follow interpretations of the constitution that suggest only a man may hold Iran's highest elected office.
Women’s rights are human rights
Women are cleared to run for Iran's parliament and have served as legislators.
While women have greater freedom in Iran than many other countries in the region, particularly Saudi Arabia and neighbouring Afghanistan, it is widely believed that the wording of the constitution closes the door on the presidency.
It says the president will be elected from religious-political men, or "rijal,'' a plural for man in Arabic that is common in Farsi, too.
But Iran is also a signatory to the UN Convention on Civil and Political Rights and as such, is required to eliminate all forms of discrimination on women. Women’s rights are human rights. Südwind calls on the government of Iran, based on these commitments, to guarantee women equal treatments in the presidential election race.