Iranian Lawmakers Advocate for Women’s Greater Social Participation

Women walk through Valisar Square in Tehran, Iran, Nov. 7, 2017 / File photo by Arash Khamooshi, The New York Times

Female parliamentarians have called for broader participation of women in the Iranian society, particularly its labour market and politics, arguing it will help spur the development of the 80-million nation.

The incumbent parliament has seen a surge in efforts to defend women’s role in the society, resulting from their unprecedented presence in the legislative body.

Women occupy 17 seats in this parliament, their highest number since the victory of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Activists hope the greater number of women in the parliament would positively affect women’s rights.

Soheila Jolodarzadeh, a veteran lawmaker affiliated to the reformist camp, says greater social participation of woman will help the society to develop faster, as they possess unique characteristics that makes them a perfect fit for some type of jobs.

“Today, more and more women have stepped outside their traditional roles to have more participation in the society,” she told the Persian-language IRNA on Monday.

Jolodarzadeh said women’s great patience and their superior skill in forming relationships with people makes them fit for various positions, particularly in the world of politics.

“Despite [considerable] opposition to the participation of woman in politics, [I believe] they are well capable of undertaking activities in this field,” she said.

 

More Employed Women Means Greater Health

Parvaneh Salahshouri, another parliamentarian affiliated with the reformist bloc, says greater participation of woman in the country’s workforce could enhance the levels of health and education among Iranian families.

Moreover, employed women could also bring up more successful children, as their work experience enables them to better handle family affairs and teach their children to be independent and responsible, she said.

Salahshouri, who heads the parliament’s women faction, said they have undertaken several measures to encourage women’s social participation, including proposing plans to provide female entrepreneurs with facilities for creating home jobs.

Although the gender gap in education has been bridged and women have a significant presence in schools and universities, their share in the job market is still small.

Iranian women’s participation rate in labour force is one of the lowest ones compared to many other countries.

Statistics show that participation of women in the labour market rose steadily in the 1997-2005 period, from 10% to 17%.

However, the rate declined in the 2005-2013 period, from 17% to 10%, under the two terms of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

But since 2013, when President Hassan Rouhani came to power, the rate has been growing.

According to a report published by the research centre of the Iranian Parliament on December 20, 2017, the participation rates of men and women labour force in the fiscal year 2016-17 were 64% and 14.9%, respectively.

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