Domestic Economy

Coronavirus Era: Supporting the Vulnerable

Deputy Minister of Coop, Labor and Social Welfare
Coronavirus Era: Supporting the Vulnerable Coronavirus Era: Supporting the Vulnerable

The Middle East is more affected by the coronavirus than any other region in the world. The global economy is projected to shrink by 2% and the Middle East by 11%. 
Women, the elderly and children constitute vulnerable groups that the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is more concerned about. We must take effective action to support these groups along with all human beings. A goal that we are very far away from, and it seems that we are getting further away from it as time goes by. 
In this situation, providing social support, which is the duty of the Ministry of Cooperative, Labor and Social Welfare, is facing huge financial and budgetary constraints. Despite the hurdles, the government in Tehran has made every effort to support Iranian households, especially those headed by women.
Among supportive measures was 10 million rials ($43) to all those in need who applied (22 million households). This was made available without referring to banks. Applicants could submit their application in the form of text message via the SIM card registered in the name of the family head. 


Other measures to help needy families include: 

- 20 million rial ($85) facilities to 4 million families
- Monthly allowance of between 2 to 6 million rials ($8.5-25) to one million households depending on the number of household members
- Possibility of selling the so-called Justice Shares of 49 million shareholders in the stock market. The value of shares for every shareholder is about 100 million rials ($429). Justice Shares are shares of government-owned companies that were given free to the six lowest income deciles a decade ago. Shareholders were not allowed to sell the shares until last May.  
The portion for female-headed households in each support policy group is shown in the table below. Notably 14% of households are female-headed and 52% of social welfare payments have gone to female heads of households.
The process was carried out electronically and without people referring to the administrative bodies.
Despite all the evil the pandemic has brought in its wake, it has accelerated the much-needed reform of the social protection system in our country.
Effective measures have been taken to better monitor the situation of households. Information from various organizations is transmitted in real-time to the Iranian Welfare Database. We have had cooperation with The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) regarding real-time monitoring of information of Iranian households. I thank the officials of this UN organization.
Another important measure that is being pursued is the so-called "Women Protection Single Window". This initiative was launched with UNFPA help and we hope it will deliver.
The first phase of the information dashboard of female heads of households, which is one of the pillars of this system, has been developed with UNICEF help. 
It provides a comprehensive view of the situation of female heads of households to facilitate policymaking and planning.
To achieve common goals with UNFPA in 2020, the office of the welfare deputy at the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare intends to complete the next phase of  developing he system, which includes monitoring and updating the information dashboard of female-headed households, reviewing and developing real-time monitoring to provide  households support services.
This initiative is one of the basic measures in creating and developing an efficient protection system against shocks caused by natural disasters or economic crises. 
Technical and financial assistance, such as helping develop a single window for protection of women, which is the subject of cooperation between UNFPA and us, is apparently a priority and should be upheld.

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