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 Breadwinning Women From ‘Vulnerable Groups’ Rising
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Breadwinning Women From ‘Vulnerable Groups’ Rising

The average age of breadwinning women is rapidly declining , according to the supervisor of the Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation (IKRF) who pointed out that in some cases female breadwinners “are as young as 16 years.”  
At a conference on “Women on the Path towards Social Development,” Hossein Anvari said “Islamic values require women to have a lifestyle different from that of women in secular societies.” Otherwise, their lives will be “in a mess” as is becoming the case in the country, where an increasing number of breadwinning women are confused whether “to choose Islamic or western values,” he said reports ISNA.
Women who choose to be breadwinners are mostly educated and unmarried, as “they do not want to lower their personal ambitions and expectations.” To prevent such a trend, the official suggested that children need to learn in schools about the significance of the institution of family.

 Poverty
The concept of breadwinning women, however, is often associated with poverty in Iran. Unlike advanced countries, “working mothers in our country comprise ‘vulnerable groups’ and mostly comprise a wide range of women including widows, divorcees, immigrant women, and women separated from citizens of foreign countries, Anvari said.
“Wives of irresponsible men and women who exit temporary marriages belong to this category,” he added. School dropouts and unmarried girls are also potential breadwinners.
Although no clear statistics seem to be available on the number of single working mothers in the country, “one million breadwinning moms are now under the coverage of the Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation.”
Families with single  mothers as the sole or primary income providers often face numerous problems such as poverty, ill-health, financial insecurity, emotional distress, disappointment, aggression, and humiliation among others.
Besides, they are often excluded from social participation, and despite the fact that these women are talented, they can hardly afford appropriate training to be able to get regular jobs. Often women in this category live in the suburban areas of cities, which are unsafe.”Consequently, single moms and their families suffer from lack of self-confidence.”
Emphasizing the necessity to deal with the issues and problems faced by breadwinning women, Anvari said the authorities concerned “often ignore this group and avoid talking about them as if it is taboo.”
No conference or meeting so far has been held to discuss the plight of single mothers, he said, noting that “once the fundamentals of the matter are addressed, many of the problems will be solved and the burden on this category of women will be reduced.”  

 Recommendations
A solution to dealing with the problems faced by single moms will require inclusion of family protection policies at the macro policy levels.
“The policies should address strengthening of family ties, enhancing social security, supporting the poor, providing health care and improving social justice for this group,” he suggested, adding that these can be incorporated in the next five-year economic plan, starting 2016.
While similar policies were devised in the Fifth Five-Year Economic Development Plan (2011-2016), they “were never implemented, due to some  reasons,” which Anvari did not explain.
Development of social insurance can create a bright horizon for single mothers and all the three branches executive, legislative, and judicial should take concerted action, he stressed. Regarding remarriage, more than 3,000 female breadwinners under the coverage of the foundation had been helped in the past year.  
He also proposed the establishment of a special fund to provide training to help them enter the labor market. “They need to develop certain life skills to enhance their capabilities in dealing with crisis situations,” he added.

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