By Nilofar Suhrawardy, MMNS India Correspondent
NEW DELHI: Defeating stereotyped notions held about women in Muslim countries being the neglected lot, Iran Embassy hosted a women oriented function in Delhi, earlier this month. Called the â€œFood Festival,â€ women invitees were received only by women, including the chief host- wife of Iranian envoy Seyed Mehdi Nabizadeh. Only women were visible, attending to guests and serving food as well as soft drinks. The stage was also held for a brief while by only women. The chief guest on the occasion was Ms Menon, wife of Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon. It was the first diplomatic gathering held in the capital city, with only women taking the stage as hosts, guests as well as caterers. In addition to highlighting similarities in Iranian and Indian cuisine, the Food Festival strongly suggested that, diplomatically, when and need be, women of Muslim nations certainly know how to make their presence felt. The guests included women from various fields, including diplomatic representatives, social activists and media.
Though Muslim women constitute only a small percentage in the diplomatic staff of their respective countries, this has not deterred them from making their diplomatic presence felt assertively. Women hold senior positions in several embassies of Muslim countries, based in Delhi, including Pakistan, Turkey and Egypt. Riffat Masood is the first woman from Pakistan to hold the office of Deputy High Commissioner. This is a major development considering that India and Pakistan have yet to appoint a woman as their respective envoy to the other country. Besides, only around 10 percent of Pakistani diplomats are women. When questioned on her opinion about the importance gradually but definitely being gained by women of Muslim countries in the diplomatic field, Masood told TMO: â€œThis is like a slap on face of those who paint only a negative image of Muslim women in Islamic countries.â€