Iranian Labour Market on Path to Gender Transformation

By Maysam Bizaer for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.

Iranian society has undergone tremendous change in past decades, with women continuously playing a role in this transformation. Indeed, Iranian women have long sought a more active presence in society, gradually distancing themselves from the cliche of being mothers or wives. Today, they make up almost 70% of university applicants and half of the graduates.

Paired with an increase in economic hardship, more of Iran’s young and educated female citizens have been seeking employment to support themselves and their families or to achieve financial independence from their male guardians.

“Women should be active and have plans for their lives. They must not wait for men to meet their financial needs. Even an unmarried girl cannot be dependent on her father forever,” a female employee of the Central Bank of Iran, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Al-Monitor.

Statistical Center of Iran (SCI) data indicate that the economic participation rate of Iranian women was on a downward trend in the 10-year period ending in 2015, reaching a low point of 12% in the Iranian calendar year of 1393 (ending March 2015). This term refers to individuals who are either employed or actively looking for work.

There are multiple reasons for the low rate of employment among women. Iran’s civil code places men as the head of the household, granting them the right to control the economic activities of their wives and daughters. Meanwhile, social norms consider family affairs to be the main domain of women.

Other factors, such as the limitation of some university degrees to male students, banning of women from certain jobs and many men’s refusal to share housework with their spouses, have all forced many women out of the job market or to leave their occupations after marriage.

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