the vice presidency for Women & Family Affairs Isalmic Republic Of Iran

Address of Dr. Massoumeh Ebtekar, Vice President on Women and Family Affairs, in the Stockholm Forum for Gender Equality

Wednesday 25 April 2018 - 13:24

In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Stockholm Forum for Gender Equality, April 2018

It is a pleasure to join the deliberations in Stockholm in spring. Spring and Norooz as we know the new year in Iran are times for revival and renewal. Revival  of spirit and thoughts which determine our actions and decisions. We have three realms envisioned for the role of the woman in the Islamic perspective. The first is her role in the general realm of human development,     known as the anima or the colorful spirit of life; she has a life giving role for all humanity. 

The second is the realm of social, political and economic development, the inspirational role that enables women to initiate, mobilize and create hope.  The third is the realm of the family pointing to  her intrinsic skills in upbringing, care and intellectual and moral development of the family and the future generations.

 The Holy Quran states :On humankind, we have created you male and female, and set among you tribes and ethic group, that you may know (each other) that the most valuable among you for God is the most pious.

In this equalitarian approach, men and women are created from a single spirit, thus essentially equal in their existence.

Dr. Rouhani, the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Government have set clear targets for continued advancement of women and their social and economic empowerment.

Training and education is key to economic empowerment. Women's literacy has boomed in Iran from a mere 35% before the Revolution to 84% and is on a steady rise. The gender gap has decreased from 19 to 7 percent. Academic education for rural women is also increasing at a rapid pace. This has facilitated training schemes for rural women leading to the creation of jobs in villages. Women's entrepreneurship in fields such as tourism, agriculture and related products, nature conservation and eco-tourism, handicrafts and education are on the rise in the villages.

Based on the 2016 census 22.7 percent of Iranian women have academic education and this trend is on a rapid rise. We currently have 4.3 million university students among which 2.2 million are women. In urban areas this rate is even higher. This provides a unique opportunity for training and up scaling of skills for creation of new jobs.

Facilitating   access to financial resources is also an imperative which the government has undertaken.

We currently have two type of loans in Iran one for rural areas the DG for women affairs is member of allocation committee.

The other is a general loan where we have introduced a gender balanced approach in the guidelines for the banking system. Another scheme is also underway to support knowledge-based enterprises both through start-ups and ventures but also micro credit and loans.

Our experience in Iran and what we learn from many other societies indicates that trends show that women are aware and sensitive of their family roles, and  they chose to prioritize family roles in some cases.

So in certain age groups, when children are young women prefer  to work spending more time at home. They see their family and upbringing children, and caring for the elderly or disabled as a priority. In the broader perspective, the society also sees this as a social priority while men are also encouraged to share more responsibility in the home. Home based enterprises, digital technology and IT based businesses are nonetheless unique opportunities for women who chose to safeguard their family roles as well. In the formal sector supportive measures need to be undertaken  . In Iran we currently have a nine month maternity leave, 2hrs/day nursing leave, subsidies for day care, 3 day leave for fathers and mother and child friendly services. A law for decreasing working hours for mothers with children or family members with special needs is also in place. When a woman sees her family as a priority versus her social role or position, this should not be stigmatized or considered backward.

 Recent statistics indicate that out of 860 thousand jobs created annually  in the past two years 67% in 2016 and 48% in 2017 have been occupied by women. Iranian women have outnumbered men in nationwide variety university entrance exams for the past decade and today their numbers exceed men by more than 20% in all fields except engineering.

Iran is haven to a vast spectrum of ethnic groups. This diversity is an actual asset for Iran while creating a colorful array of traditions, art, traditional costumes and handicrafts, music and folklore. Iranian handicrafts are the most valuable in terms of the diversity, color art forms and quality. According to official statistics, 75% of handicrafts are produced by women, in rural areas.  This ethnic diversity and the civilization heritage of Iran has created a unique opportunity  for tourism and related jobs.  The biodiversity and natural attractions of Iran are also great potentials for enterprises in conservation and sustainable ecotourism.

Entrepreneurship for women will be an important dimension of the global economy . Conservation,  protection of biodiversity and natural resources are pillars of sustainable development in every society and women have an indispensible role to play in this area.

The green and blue economy, confronting and mitigating the adverse effects of climate change are vital areas where need to engage women in both decision making but also economic ventures, training empowerment and green entrepreneurship which not only undertakes the corporate social responsibility  and environmental standards but serves to protect and improve the status of our global environment while creating job opportunities and improving the quality of life of women and societies in general.

Thank you.





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