‘Subjective’ Social Thinking Stands in Women’s Way

‘Subjective’ Social Thinking Stands in Women’s Way‘Subjective’ Social Thinking Stands in Women’s Way

One of the major obstacles in the way of women’s participation in national economic development is the existence of “subjective” social structures and thinking, says Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Shahindokht Molaverdi.

She made the remarks at the 14th assembly of the government’s Advisory Council in Women and Family Affairs held at the Ministry of Communications and Technology and attended by Minister Mahmoud Vaezi.

“Although political obstacles are also an issue to be reckoned with, however, the existing subjective social structures are overwhelming, and need urgent revision. This is a time-consuming process,” she said, IRNA reported.

Stressing that a part of such problems is to be blamed on women themselves who need to make fundamental changes in their mindsets and become more politically (and economically) active, Molaverdi said, “Without the participation of women who comprise half the 80 million population, we cannot achieve social equity and achieve the objectives of the general policies of the resistance economy (a set of guidelines advocated by the Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei to curb reliance on oil export revenues, promote domestic manufactures and improve productivity).

Gender equality is the top priority and aspiration of the vice-presidency, she said, pointing out that this has been proposed in the upcoming sixth five-year economic development plan (2016-2021).

“We certainly hope the bill proposed to the Majlis (parliament) to enhance gender equality will be passed with minimum opposition.”

Molaverdi also made mention of the bill sent to Parliament recently that seeks reduction of working hours for women under “special circumstances,” like those with children or spouses who suffer from disabilities. The bill is currently being reviewed by the Majlis Social Commission to clear objections made to it, prior to its debate in the full chamber before the fiscal year is out (March 19).

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“According to data provided at the recent World Economic Forum, Iran ranked 145th among 150 countries in terms of gender gap,” Molaverdi rued, envisaging an improvement in the ranking under the upcoming economic development plan.

Many women have come forward to register for the upcoming Majlis elections (Feb. 26), and that is an indication of a good start for progress in other fields in the society, she said.

According to the 2012 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report, the rate of entrepreneurship in Iran for women between the ages 18 to 64 fluctuated from 4 to 6% between 2008 and 2012 with their overall economic participation making up 13% of the entire economy, a figure that has not changed for the past three decades.

Molaverdi has often said that considering the increase in the number of educated women and the number of women who have graduated from universities and are looking for jobs, “we are in need of a serious plan, and the Rouhani administration is not neglecting this issue. We are formulating policies for sustainable employment, and one of the groups that we are targeting is the female university graduates.”

Compared to most Persian Gulf Arab states and other Muslim countries, Iran has advanced in terms of women’s participation in academia, the job market and social affairs. Their role and influence in society has increased visibly over the past four decades. However, activists believe there is more scope for them in a variety of social, cultural, education and economic spheres that must be promoted by the government and based on progressive legislation.