Female Heads of Households Need Moral, Mental Support

Female Heads of Households Need Moral, Mental SupportFemale Heads of Households Need Moral, Mental Support

Along with women’s economic self-reliance, programs that are psychologically empowering should also be developed for them, said Fahimeh Farahmandpour, adviser for women’s affairs at the Ministry of Interior. She was speaking on the sidelines of the opening of an empowerment center for female-headed households in Isfahan.

“Having the ability or skill to make a product for sale needn’t necessarily mean independence” for a woman; only those who have good salesmanship skills and mental strength can find a way to independent living, Khabaronline quoted her as saying.

Farahmandpour pointed to the government measures, including vocational training courses and loans to help women producers.”Regrettably, anyone who is vocationally trained is not necessarily psychologically capable of building a better life.”

Pointing to the age pyramid of female heads of households she said “most of them are over the age of 50.”

For women over 50 years, employment is not enough; they are also in need of moral and mental support. “We need a comprehensive plan to support them. Paying attention to only one aspect of their problem is not enough,” she stressed.

Due to various reasons, the number of female-headed households has increased from 1.2 million in 1991 to 2.5 million in 2015.

While the figure has seen an upswing, data shows that all of them are not in need of financial support; according to figures, about 1.3 million are in need of jobs and monetary assistance.

Higher rate of divorce is largely responsible for the increasing number of female-headed households. It should be noted that addiction is the main cause of divorce in the country (55%).

 Multiple Roles

Female heads of households are forced to play multiple roles and often have to bear the burden of all their problems single-handed; therefore many of them are faced with psychological problems including depression and anxiety, which can also negatively impact their productivity and job performance.

Farahmandpour said as a first step, “We should check addiction and divorce to prevent further increase in the number of female-headed households, followed by a comprehensive plan that provides all-round support.”  

According to the State Welfare Organization (SWO), female-headed households include divorcees, widows, spouses of addicted, jailed and unemployed men and wives of migrants and disabled men.

At present, 180,000 female-headed households are under coverage of the SWO, according to Habibollah Masudi-Farid, deputy for social affairs at the huge organization.

As per law, each year 10% of the families under SWO coverage should be empowered and gradually excluded from its support list. Last year (ended March 20), 15,000 families were relatively empowered and removed from the list.

Currently, only 54,000 female household heads in urban areas and 46,000 in rural regions are covered by insurance of the Social Security Organization (SSO) and receive pension, he said.

At present, 130,000 women (about 72% of the women covered) receive psychological services in SSO clinics of which half are state-run and the rest are private. “In the near future we want to increase coverage to the remaining women,” Masudi-Farid said.  However, these women hardly constitute 13.8% of all women-headed households and are in need of employment and financial support. The SWO should put in place effective and efficient programs to prevent addiction which in turn will help address the problem of divorce.