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Plight of Homeless Women Stirs Molaverdi
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Plight of Homeless Women Stirs Molaverdi

Ending the problem of homeless women in the capital has been in the news for a while as biting cold winter nights are sweeping through Tehran streets. Vice-President for Women and Family Affairs Shahindokht Molaverdi announced that her office has been tasked with addressing the issue. In her first initiative, Molaverdi said a shelter has been built for these women and will open within the next few days, Iran newspaper reported.
‘Mehrbanoo Abode’ is the name of the center launched with the help of the community-based organization ‘Tolooe-Bineshanha’ which literally means “The Rise of the Unknown.” The charity organization is known for its decade-long work to improve the situation of the homeless. Their team has identified 500 homeless women in the city. But a Tehran Municipality (TM) official had earlier said there are at least 2,000 homeless women in the capital.    
Besides providing a roof over their head, the facility is aimed to be used as a rehab center to help empower women to make a full recovery before returning to society as functioning members of their community. The center was originally designed for 70 people but Akbar Rajabi, director of the center says it has the capacity to host 250 women.    
“The presidential office for women and family affairs has plans to support homeless women,” says Molaverdi. “By supporting community-based organizations, we seek to alleviate some of the needy women’s sufferings and if need be, we are willing to provide them with financial aid.”

 Role of NGOs
As Molaverdi puts it, ‘Mehrbanoo Abode’ is the first such facility to be built for the homeless with the participation of community-based organizations. Rajabi believes that if charity organizations are adequately supported, “the sad tale of homeless women can end once and for all.”
“There are now 500 homeless women in Tehran who need to be cared for or else the problem will be exacerbated. While four years ago there were only 200 homeless women on the streets their number is increasing which calls for action,” he said.    
Rajabi said homeless women have shown readiness to live in the center and they will be given training in a variety of skills like carpet-weaving, pottery and inlay work. The charity has helped 927 homeless men in the past year.  
The TM also says that they are building facilities - makeshift and permanent - to facilitate the lodging of homeless women in particular.
According to figures announced by the TM there are 15,000 homeless people living in the capital.

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