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Spotlight On Iran

Women's Unemployment In Iran Twice That Of Men

Iranian women at work.

Women's chances of finding jobs in Iran are half those of men. The official figures published by the country’s Center for Statistics indicate that 42 percent of Iranian women between the ages of 15 and 29 are unemployed, while the unemployment rate among men from the same age group is 20.3 percent. Experts say both the government and society are responsible for the crisis.

Considering the so-called participation rate, the number of people who are employed or are actively looking for job, the unemployment rate of Iranian women looks even more alarming. Only 15.2 percent of Iranian women -- versus 64 percent of men -- participate in the job market, and still a huge number of them have no chances of being hired.

“The gender policies of the Islamic Republic do not provide girls with equal opportunities on the job market,” Ziba Mir-Hosseini, an Iranian anthropologist at the University of London, told Radio Farda.

The current crisis also has roots in Iranian society. The country’s patriarchal culture considers women as housewives and mothers and prioritizes men on the job market, Mir-Hosseini said.

Women comprise approximately 50 percent of Iran’s 80 million population. In recent decades, there have been more female students at Iranian universities than male. However, female graduates are only half successful as their male peers at finding employment.

The situation correlates with the values enforced by the ruling elite, particularly those of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, who prefers to see woman in a more traditional role. On several occasions, Khamenei has emphasized the important role of women as mothers in the families and has encouraged them to have more children.

Last year, in a 16-point decree describing the country’s family policies, he claimed the country’s “enemies” were trying to destroy families and “deviate” family relationships in Iran.

However, with the modernization of society and the growing number of girls having access to education, more Iranian women today are single and childless.

In recent years, population growth in Iran has drastically dropped, reaching 1.24%, and the divorce rate has exceeded 20 percent. Officials announced last year that they will no longer announce the exact divorce rates -- most likely because the figures are too embarrassing for them, showing that the regime has not been successful at convincing society to adopt its family values.

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