Global Gender Gap Report 2023 finds Iran at the bottom of its index
The World Economic Forum released its latest Global Gender Gap Report on June 20, 2023. According to this report, Iran ranks 143rd among 146 countries in the world examined for this report.
The Global Gender Gap Report (GGGR), published by the World Economic Forum (WEF), examines the gender gap and discrimination against women in countries around the world and serves as a reference for measuring the level of gender justice among countries.
The WEF 2023 report ranks Iran 143rd in terms of gender gap among 146 countries in the world. This denotes a downward trend compared to previous years. In addition, among the nine countries in the South Asia group, Iran ranks eighth, only above Afghanistan.
According to the Global Gender Gap report, parity has backslid in Iran, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan, as the share of ministerial positions held by women has dropped in these countries since 2022.
Gender gap index
The index of the gender gap and discrimination against women consists of four subcategories: 1) Economic Participation and Opportunities, 2) Educational Attainment, 3) Health and Survival, and 4) Political Empowerment. The results of these four subcategories determine the country’s rank from the perspective of gender justice.
The research method and statistical analysis of this report are designed with the aim of obtaining effective tools to reduce the gender gap. These methods have remained constant since the beginning of 2006. Although international statistics are essentially based on government statistics, the data from Iran is unclear since the regime is recognized as one of the most corrupt governments in the world regarding corruption indicators.
In this article, we will examine the gender gap and discrimination against women in Iran in economic participation and opportunities.
Participation in the labor market and economic opportunities
Women’s participation in the labor market and equal economic opportunities are among the components included in the gender gap index. This index is measured with sub-indices such as women’s participation rate, income compared to men’s, and participation in high-level jobs.
According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2023, the gender gap index for economic participation and opportunities for Iran is 34.4%, with the labor force participation rate standing at 20.4% in the 146th rank. The Iranian regime continues to hinder economic gender parity with a stark income gap of 17.1 percent in the 145th rank. The percentage of legislators, senior officials, and managers stands at 21.9%, with professional and technical workers’ percentage standing at 53.4%.
Regarding wages for similar work, the gender gap rate for Iran is 54.2%.
Finally, the Political Empowerment subindex registers one of the lowest parity scores for Iran at 3.1%, with women in parliament at 5.9%, women in ministerial positions at 5.3%, and women as heads of state at 0%.
Discrimination against Iranian working women has become normalized under the mullahs’ regime. Although women hold a significant share in the labor market, their rights are systematically violated by the ongoing tolerance for gender discrimination.
Nineteen percent is the share of employed Iranian women
The mullahs’ dictatorship in Iran and the establishment of a patriarchal and misogynistic culture in society are the most important reasons for the gender gap, discrimination against women, and unemployment among educated Iranian women. The Velayat-e Faqih not only disregards women’s employment but, with all kinds of tactics, tries to push women to stay at home and bear children, excluding them from the community.
Based on the data published by the Directorate on Family and Women’s Affairs, in January 2022, some 27% of university graduates are women. However, their share of employment in Iran is about 19%, meaning that 60% of educated Iranian women are unemployed. Only 40% of skilled and trained women have entered the labor market.
In addition, 70% of working women do not have stable jobs or incomes. This is despite the fact that it has been over 2 years since the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to economic and livelihood crises, many Iranian women have lost their jobs.
Mona, a young woman working in an import trading company, said: “A woman’s capabilities are not important in Iran; men are the first choice for employers.”
Speaking about employment and women’s rights, a researcher stated, “Employers often find it easier to hire and fire women. It has become something very normal for single women to receive lower salaries, and it is easier to fire them because they do not have any support and shelter.”
Equal work, yet women receive lower salaries than men
In Iran, under the rule of the mullahs, the salary of a woman is a quarter of that of a man.
A female lawyer in one of Iran’s southern cities, referring to discrimination against women in Iran, indicated, “In Iran, unfortunately, it has become normal for women to work as much as men but to receive lower wages. Of course, the conditions are worse for single women in cities.
The further into deprived areas and small towns, the more we see of these problems and discrimination. As a lawyer, I have represented various companies and seen how female secretaries were paid less than male secretaries were. Among lawyers, men receive higher attorney’s fees than women. Even male vendors are paid more than their female counterparts.”
On June 26, 2022, Kurdpa News Agency reported that a lawyer and female activist from Marivan described the cheap labor of women in the city’s strawberry fields. These women are paid 200,000 Tomans per day, despite their careful and thorough work in collecting the products. It means their wage is less than one-third of men’s wages for equal work.
Institutionalization of violence against women
Discrimination against women in employment translates into pressure to keep them at home by encouraging early marriage and pregnancy. The unequal distribution of job opportunities has also deprived women of obtaining jobs over the years.
A significant number of women in Iran, despite having university degrees, have turned to informal jobs, been forced to accept traditional roles at home, or taken jobs that pay lower salaries. Many working women are also forced to stay at home due to sexual harassment at work.
In September 2020, after reports that some female journalists had been subjected to shocking sexual harassment and violence, a small glimpse of the hidden and deep angles of violence and discrimination against working women was exposed. Sarah Ommat-Ali, a journalist who reported being harassed during a job interview, launched a campaign through which many more female journalists narrated their stories of harassment. After that, on November 2, 2020, 23 female journalists published a statement about sexual harassment that corroborated what had happened to Sarah.
Sexual violence against women in Employment
Employment ads in newspapers, websites, and immoral offers to women in so-called job interviews are among the examples of violence against Iranian women and girls for many years in a misogynistic government.
Mina, a single woman who was forced to leave her job several times due to violence, said, “Being a woman in Iran is difficult. A working woman fares worse. But being a single, capable working woman is the hardest of all.”
Mina continued, referring to the regime’s misogynistic and patriarchal thinking, “Even the most enlightened men accept a woman as a secretary and an ordinary employee in the back of their minds. In an equal position between a woman and a man, even if the woman is the better option in terms of competence as a manager or official, the man will definitely be chosen. I work as much as a man, but I get paid much less. Women are rejected easily.”
Discrimination against women is a tool to repress and stress all of society
Political factors drive patriarchal thinking in Iranian society, and many forms of discrimination are clearly institutionalized in the regime’s laws. This is because one of the characteristics of the Velayat-e Faqih regime is misogyny, and the government itself is the main cause of all these sufferings.
The mullahs want to strengthen the foundation of their awful government by promoting a patriarchal culture over society. Discriminating against women serves as a tool to suppress the entire country.
However, Iranian women have defied the regime for the past 44 years. They have proven their equality by leading the anti-government protests across the country, which shows they have already empowered themselves to decide their country’s and their own destiny.