Once every two weeks on The Tehran Times’ Instagram Story, we will have an influencer (chosen among Iranian Instagram accounts) as a guest to answer your questions. As a result of this collaboration, the 10 most interesting questions (asked by TTT’s audience) and the influencer’s answers will be published in the form of an interview on our website.
We present to you our newest guest: Faranak Amidi
Faranak Amidi is a Women’s Affairs journalist for the BBC World Service. She uses social media as a tool to reach women in Iran, Afghanistan and other countries in the region. Having worked in different fields such as human rights, teaching, and translation, she pursued a professional career in journalism about 15 years ago.
Why are the best chefs and tailors in the world generally considered to be men?
Faranak Amidi: This is because, in the past, women were not allowed to work or pursue careers. [The idea of] women having jobs, getting [proper] education, or straying beyond the traditional roles of wife, mother, and housekeeper had long been considered a taboo in most parts of the world; and it’s only in the recent history that we see women participate in social and economic activities.
Can you be a housewife and a feminist at the same time? How much does being a feminist rely on having an income?
FA: Absolutely, but as long as it’s a free and informed choice. A woman can choose to be a housewife based on the situations and conditions of her life, and she is not being a housewife simply because the society expects her to be.
Some would argue that feminism is anti-men. How would you respond to this claim?
FA: Not only is this a cliché, but it’s also not true.
Who, in your opinion, is the most influential feminist of all time?
I don’t like to categorize people this way—[it shouldn’t matter] who is better, bigger, or more important as a feminist. I have learned so much from each and every feminist I have known even if I didn’t agree with every point they made. People should be measured based on their own time and place.
What are your thoughts on abortion? How much right does a woman have over her body?
It needs to be legal [in Iran]. It’s a woman’s right to have access to safe abortion. The ban doesn’t decrease the number of abortions; all it does is put women’s life at risk. Iran’s annual rate of unsafe abortion per capita is higher than the United Kingdom’s. In the UK, it is legal and free, and 190,000 abortions are carried out every year. Sex education and women having access to clean and safe abortion are very important.
What do you think about men telling women what to wear?
Our sense of style is a part of our identity. Fashion, to me, is a personal expression of who I am, what I like, and how I feel. [So,] if someone were to stop me from expressing myself, it would be unacceptable to me.
You grew up in a Persian family. Would you mind telling us how that was like? What were their views toward women?
My family was rather open-mined and supportive, but of course, not in all cases. My father would sometimes restrict me [from certain activities], like many Iranian fathers, but he was never repressive.
Many women still live in male-dominated homes, who continue to struggle for their rights. If you could give them one piece of advice, what would it be?
Keep on fighting.
When you were 17, were you ever afraid of the future and what you were going to become later in life?
I was, indeed. I think it’s typical at that age. You’re about to enter the society, and that can be a scary and stressful experience. But if I could, here’s what I would go back and tell my 17-year-old self: Don’t be too afraid; you have a lot of time. Experience, fall down and get up while the consequences are considerably small. So don’t be afraid; take risks, and don’t worry too much.
What would you recommend to beginning journalists who want to become professional?
I believe that as a journalist, you must have a curious mind and storytelling skills. [After all,] a journalist’s job is to study, understand, and pass along what they learn to others. I would suggest reading the book “The News: A User’s Manual” by Alain de Botton.
Follow Faranak on Instagram