Rouhani likes to portray himself as pro-women. On his campaign trail three years ago, he promised to improve women’s rights. When women were attacked by acid-throwers he condemned the attackers. When women faced gender segregation at work or in sports stadiums, he spoke out in favor of women. When harsher hijab-enforcement laws were introduced, he called for restraint on their implementation. He even stated that his administration is “highly active” in improving human rights and generating equality between men and women. So how come women’s rights have actually dropped since Rouhani became president? It’s a “damned if you and damned if you don’t situation”: If Rouhani tries to improve women’s rights, his hardline opponents will make sure he doesn’t succeed. If he doesn’t try to improve their rights, then women’s rights won’t improve.