“After my first child was born, I had to leave my job. Now, I regret that and like to be at work again. I like to make use of what I have studied at university,” Aida, who has a master’s degree in archaeology, told Al-Monitor.
Despite the hardships, things have started to improve for women in recent years, as President Hassan Rouhani has made significant efforts to address gender discrimination and strengthen women’s rights.
Indeed, new data obtained from a survey of 100,000 employees in the last Iranian year (ending March 20) by IranTalent show that women constituted 40% of those who entered the Iranian labor market over the past three years. Meanwhile, SCI figures reveal that women obtained 70% of some 615,000 jobs created during the last Iranian year. This is an increase of more than 68% compared with the previous year.
However, despite these positive trajectories, employment remains a big challenge for women. International advocacy group Human Rights Watch in a recent report said women still make up only a minor portion of the labor force. “For the period between March 2016 and March 2017, only 14.9% of Iran’s women are in the workforce, compared with 64.1% of men. This rate is lower than the average of 20% for all women in the Middle East and North Africa,” the organization wrote in May, adding, “The unemployment rate for women, currently 20.7%, is double that for men.”
Nonetheless, the vice president for women’s and family affairs under Rouhani’s first term, Shahindokht Molaverdi, has defended the administration’s performance. Molaverdi, who now serves as a presidential aide on citizens’ rights, said Aug. 2 that the participation rate of women in the economy increased by one percentage point during the past four years.