Unemployment On the Rise Among Iranian Women

The government plans to create nearly 988,000 new jobs in the current year, ILNA (Iranian Labor News Agency) reported on July 17, citing Mohammad Bagher Nobakht, President Hassan Rouhani’s adviser for Supervision and Strategic Affairs, and the Head of Plan and Budget Organization.

“The government will create 270,000 new jobs in the industry and mines sectors,” Mr. Nobakht, who is also the government spokesman, said. “The Majlis [Iranian Parliament] has earmarked $1.5 million to develop jobs in rural areas and among tribal communities.”

ILNA reported earlier this month that the national unemployment rate had dropped from 12.1 percent last spring to 10.8 percent this year, a decline of 1.3 percentage points.

The Majlis ratified the Sixth Development Plan in March 2017, stipulating that the government must reduce the unemployment rate by 0.8 percent every year until it is back in the single digits. The 1.3 percentage point improvement shows that the government is performing well in this respect.

However, the numbers are not very promising for women in the job market. According to the same report by the Statistical Center of Iran, 4.95 million women were employed in the spring of 2018, but that number has dropped to 4.62 million this year, meaning that close to 330,000 women have lost their jobs in one year.

Men outnumber women five to one in the workforce. The main reason for this vast discrepancy is the belief that men are the primary breadwinners and, therefore, are more likely to look for jobs. However, the single-income family is a thing of the past. Most households need two incomes to make ends meet, particularly under the current challenging economic conditions.

The government is under pressure to accommodate the many female university graduates who are entering the job market, young girls who wish to work and gain their financial independence, and the increasing number of women who are becoming their family’s chief breadwinner.

[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]