More than 40 women have registered as prospective candidates for Iran's tenth Presidential elections, a top election official says. "Of the 475 who signed up as candidates, 433 are men and 42 are women," Kamran Daneshjoo, the head of Iran's election committee told reporters on Sunday.
That means the Islamic Republic could see a woman as its head of state, becoming the first Muslim country to have a female president.
However, the four candidates with the highest chance to win the race to the Presidential palace are incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's last prime minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi, two times parliament speaker Mehdi Karroubi and the Secretary of Expediency Council Mohsen Rezaei.
Hours after registration closed in the country's capital of Tehran, Daneshjoo said the oldest Iranian to seek the presidency was an 86 year-old, while the youngest was a 19-year-old teenager. "From among the candidates one had obtained a high ranking clerical degree, one was a professor, 35 people had a PhD. and 216 were post graduates," he added.
A former member of Iran's 290-seat parliament, Rafat Bayat is considered the most prominent female figure to register for the elections, scheduled for June 12. The Sociologist, whose last bid for presidency was rejected four years ago, has announced that if elected, her first deputy will be a woman.
After registering at the Interior Ministry on Saturday, Bayat criticized the Ahmadinejad administration for missing so many 'golden opportunities', a reference to the government's failure to take advantage of skyrocketing oil prices last year.
Under the Islamic Republic constitution, candidates for the presidency be among "rejal", a word meaning 'men' in Arabic but translates into renowned political figures in Persian. The word has caused controversy in the past, with some interpretations claiming that the constitution bars women from running for president.
However, Iran's constitutional watchdog, the Guardian Council, declared in April that there is no restriction on women standing in this year's presidential elections. "The council has never put an interpretation on the word 'rejal'," Abbas-Ali Kadkodaye, a spokesman for the Guardians Council said.