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Change in Sex Ratio Makes Rural Women Vulnerable
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Change in Sex Ratio Makes Rural Women Vulnerable

Unemployment is drawing rural men to cities “as Iran enters the second stage of social and cultural transition,” contributing to an ascending female to male sex ratio in rural regions, says rural sociologist Mohsen Ebrahimpour.
“The first stage of transition saw a growth in higher education, increase in urbanization along with a rise in the number of nuclear families, reduced birth rates and higher employment in the industrial sector contrary to the agricultural sector,” Ebrahimpour, a member of the Iranian Sociologists Association, and advisor to the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology, told ILNA.
The second social transition is seeing a graying population and a surge in social problems like divorce and disruption in the gender balance between urban and rural areas, which adversely affects the populace in the latter group.
Ebrahimpour singled out sex ratio characterized by the number of females per 1,000 males, as an indicator of the gender imbalance.
The ratio in rural regions increases as men migrate to cities to find jobs while women and the elderly are forced to stay behind.
In the capital Tehran, the ratio is 120 men for every 100 women, while it is 90 for every 100 women in rural communities.

 Migration
A member of the Majlis Social Commission, Iraj Abdi, also criticized the indiscriminate migration to megacities and said, “Unemployment and lack of modern facilities are the main reasons for the massive influx to Tehran and other large cities.”
He said cultural differences between the underprivileged and advantaged areas exacerbate social harm, particularly among migrants, reports ICANA.
To make matters worse, national investments in youth employment are mostly focused in Tehran and less priority is given to deprived regions. There should be equitable and just distribution of funds, Abdi stressed.
Pointing to the $122 million (4,000 billion rials) budget for creating employment in the current Iranian year (began March 21), he said, “The government should distribute services and job opportunities equitably in different regions before thinking of a permanent strategy to resolve the matter of unemployment.”

 Susceptible
“One of the major consequences of the changing patterns of gender distribution is manifested in the higher age of marriage among rural girls. This hinders their opportunities to get married,” Ebrahimpour maintained.
Currently, there are 12 million people of marriageable age in the country, and one-third of them reside outside metropolitan areas.
The demographical changes have made rural women more susceptible to social harm. While urban women are involved in social engagements and employment, those in rural regions are not favored with such opportunities.
Citing the ongoing constructions of villaments in Gilavand district in Damavand County “as a key obstruction and major threat to local women’s security and livelihood,” he noted that such activities had imperiled agricultural activities and confined rural women to their homes.
“The same holds true in the mountainous regions of the country,” he added.

 Poverty
Poverty and the drop in the productive labor force in rural areas are two sides of the same coin, the expert said. “Migration of the rural workforce deepens poverty in communities, and that in turn impacts agriculture and national food security.”
Ebrahimpour warned that if rural areas do not develop on par with urban regions, “environmental problems will increase and the agriculture sector will get trapped in the cycle of recession.”

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