Feminization of poverty on the rise in Iran
Iran is a country sitting on a sea of oil. Iran holds the world’s second largest natural gas reserves. Yet more than 80 percent of the nation lives below the poverty line, and the middle class has essentially disappeared.
The state media and officials have acknowledged “feminization of poverty” in the country.
Poverty fuels spread of various social ills, from panhandling, child labor, sale of organs, early marriages, homelessness, and sifting through garbage for food, to addiction, prostitution, sale of children, infants and unborn fetuses, and suicides.
Suffering from double discrimination institutionalized in the country’s laws and social norms, Iranian women face multiple barriers to education and employment, and to receiving bank loans, government support, and any form of insurance or subsidies.
For example, 82 percent of the 3.6 million women heads of household have no decent jobs and live under the poverty line without receiving any government support.
Women heads of household are among the poorest of the poor and the main example of feminization of poverty in Iran.
At least 500,000 or 16% of women heads of household are under 20 years of age. This figure accounts only for the 3,100,000 women heads of household “who have been identified or have introduced themselves to support centers.” (Zohreh Ashtiani, secretary of the Family Faction of the mullahs’ parliament, interview with the state-run Shahrvand newspaper, July 10, 2018)
Living conditions for women heads of household are described as being under the “death line” because even if these women receive pensions, it is only around 100 thousand tomans ($9) a month, while the poverty line is 8 million tomans ($700) for every family.
Economic instability is the main cause of growing poverty in Iran, but feminization of poverty and its consequent social ailments are mainly and basically due to the regime’s official policies and laws which discriminate against women.
Anoushirvan Mohseni Bandpay, head of the National Welfare Organization, had this to say about feminization of poverty, “We are lagging with respect to economic indices, such as providing jobs and employment for women. Of course, this is mainly due to country’s policies where we have 22 women employed compared to every 100 men with employment. Women’s employment rate in Iran is 12 percent, at best.” (The state-run Tabnak website, February 13, 2018)
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