Iran Minister: Women Must be Empowered in Light of The Economic War and Covid

Iran Minister: Women Must be Empowered in Light of The Economic War and Covid

Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Masoumeh Ebtekar stressed the need to further empower women, breadwinners, in the context of the economic war and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Women entrepreneurs and virtual businesses need to be further strengthened during the economic war and the pandemic, and that is why they are supported by the Vice Presidency for Women and Family Affairs, Ebtekar wrote on her Twitter account on Saturday.

In Iran, there are 3 million Women Headed Households (WHH), out of a total of 22 million families, and most of the WHH can be found in less developed areas of the country, according to the UNDP office in Iran. The labor market structure indicates that most women in Iran, especially those in rural and less developed areas, are keen to start micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSME). As in many other countries, WHH is most likely to re-invest their earnings in the children’s wellbeing. However, women face many barriers in accessing the market and developing viable MSMEs, in particular with access to finance, awareness of competitive value chains, and untapped local economic potential in their geographic area.

COVID-19 adds additional challenges for economically empowering WHH in Iran, meaning that innovative strategies are needed.

In March, President Hassan Rouhani said the government has allocated 1,000 trillion rails (about $24 billion at the official rate of 42,000 rials) to help lessen the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the national economy.

“We allocated the sum in addition to the next year’s budget in order to prevent huge losses and to be able to go on more conveniently.”

He elaborated that 120 trillion rials (about $3 billion) has been allocated to the health sector and 50 trillion rials (about $1.2 billion) has been allocated to the unemployment fund.

Moreover, 750 trillion rials (about $17.8 billion) will be paid in low-interest loans to businesses, Rouhani noted.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare of Iran held a joint webinar in July aimed to build partnerships to help boost the resilience of female heads of households.

In the same line, Maryam Mirmalek, director-general of the office of Support and Empowerment, informed participants about the first on-line dashboard developed by the ministry in order to monitor the socio-economic and health status of female heads of households on a real-time basis.

“The socio-economic recovery plan requires $50 million. $15 million have already been mobilized by UN agencies in Iran”, concluded Ugochi Daniels, UN Resident Coordinator in Iran, and one of the panelists. “UN agencies in Iran stay committed to complementing government’s efforts to leave no one behind”.

Moreover, Headquarters for Executing the Order of the Imam also known as Setad-e Ejraiy-e Farman-e Hazrat-e Emam implemented 60,000 job creation plans for those financially struggling families who were affected by coronavirus outbreak.

Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation also planned to extend home-based employment programs in a bid to support female-headed households.

Fifty-five percent of the families supported by the Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation are women heads of households, Seyed Morteza Bakhtiari, head of the Foundation said.

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