Over the past 10 years, the number of women heads of the household has increased to 4 million. Today, more than 15 million are under the care of these women. The regime always tries to show its support for these deprived women by mentioning projects such as the empowerment of women heads of household. However, poor living conditions and the empty tables of women heads of household have been the most obvious signs of the regime’s inefficiencies in this regard.
In all government records, we have seen many resolutions, directives, and communiqués addressing women heads of household. However, it is obvious that all these resolutions are only valid on paper. The Rouhani government’s deputy for Women and Family Affairs, Massoumeh Ebtekar, has done nothing for women apart from merely using the term, “empowerment of women heads of household.”
Meanwhile, the biggest employers in Iran are Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards. “The wealth of Khamenei’s economic institutions at his headquarters is equivalent to one trillion dollars” (The state-run Mostaghel Newspaper, June 1, 2020).
“In the first 6 months of the Persian year 1399 (March-September 2020), steelmakers, petrochemical companies, and mine owners received 600,000 billion Tomans in rental income” (The state-run Ressalat Daily – October 15, 2020).
On the other hand, “about 9,800 production units” have been closed (The state-run Sharq Daily – April 13, 2021).
The empowerment plan for women heads of households: a deceptive bubble
Speaking about the women’s empowerment plan, Mousavi Chelek, head of the Aid Workers’ Association, said there was no “empowerment” support for women heads of household. He called the plan meaningless and said there is no empowerment, employment, or independence for this group. Jafar Bai, an expert on social ailments, called the plan a “deceptive bubble,” acknowledging that there had never been a “fundamental and infrastructural view in this area” (The state-run Jam-e Jam Daily – April 10, 2021)
“As this trend continues, the government will always have a large population of women heads of households,” Chelek said. “These numbers will trend upwards as it becomes more difficult to earn a livelihood and as the Coronavirus spreads.”
The government has only paid pensions to a very small number of women heads of household. Interestingly, the pension paid in accordance with the law is always less than it should be (The state-run Jam-e Jam Daily – April 10, 2021).
The mullahs’ corrupt regime violates even its own minimum wage laws to plunder more and provide maximum profit for the ruling system.
“Last year, when reviewing the minimum wage for the Persian year 1399 (March 21, 2020 – March 20, 2021), the workers‘ living fund was set at 4,940,000 Tomans. The cost of living was definitely higher” (The state-run Tasnim News Agency – December 28, 2020).
However, the minimum wage was set at 1,835,426 Tomans, which is about one-third of the same incomplete living fund (Mohammad Shariatmadari, Minister of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare – December 28, 2020).
Female workers’ wages have always been much lower than those of men, causing them to face, yet again, systematic double oppression. Meanwhile, the poverty line for a family of four is 10 million Tomans.
The mullahs’ definition of support has been based on the same pension payment scheme. A single-family can receive 200,000 Tomans, and a family of more than four receives 600,000 Tomans!
This is all the government has done for women heads of household in the last few decades!
In the Persian year 1400 (beginning 21 March), one of the areas of discrimination imposed on women heads of the household because of their gender is non-payment of fees for their children. The government pays 600,000 Tomans to every married employee with children, yet the government does not pay this small amount to women. This is while both women and men pay an equal amount of fee for insurance while employed.
A retired female worker and sole breadwinner spoke about her salary and the empty tables of women heads of household.
“I retired in 2019 at the age of 42 with 20 years of experience. In the most optimistic case, this pension covers 10 days’ worth of expenses for my family and me, or it just pays the rent,” she said.
Her husband is unemployed and bankrupt and cannot even pay his optional insurance premiums, let alone the house expenses and rent!
A painful example
Another woman exposes the painful living conditions and empty tables among the 4 million women-headed households. She described her situation as follows:
“I am a woman head of household. I own neither the house nor the shop. Although I sent my national code, I was not given a loan of one million Tomans and no basket of goods! The government only declares that ‘we support and help the weak sections of society.’ Yet you [the government] paid a living subsidy and loans totaling 1,000,000 Tomans to my landlord, who already owns three units of the house and the shop – his financial situation is very good. But you did not give it to me – she who has not even a meter of land as a woman head of household?!” (The state-run Aftab Daily – April 8, 2020).