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A Socio Economic Outlook at the Women in Iran/ Nahid Keshavarz

translated by: Karineh Kanants

Sunday 21 September 2008, by admin

Feminist School (Nahid Keshavarz): in the following text, you can find some statistics about situation of Iranian Women. we, in feminist school, hope this text can help our audience to find a real view about Iranian women.


According to 2003 statistics the population of Iran was 66,991,573 (Sixty Six million and nine hundred and ninety one thousand and five hundred and seventy three) from which 34,055,617 (Thirty four million and fifty five thousand and six hundred and seventeen) are women. According to statistics from 2003 the population ratio is 104 to 100, in other words for 100 female there are 104 male[1] and also life expectancy for women is 73.16 and for men is 68.5%.

Marriage & Divorce

According to 2003 statistics 681,034 (Six hundred and eighty one thousand and thirty four) marriages and 72,359 (Seventy two thousand and three hundred and fifty nine) divorces hence the ratio of marriage to divorce is 9.41% so for every 100 marriage there are average of 9 divorces[2].

In Marie Ladier -Fouladi population expert’s opinion who resides in France states that regardless of what we read in the papers who write about the unprecedented growth in divorce, there is not sufficient proof to say that divorce in the society is has increased and goes on to say that scientifically we compare number of divorce and number of marriage for the 12 month and according to this measurement we have not had an increase in divorce.

The percentage of divorce from 1957 to day has been fluctuating between 8 to 11% hence the number of divorce is not on the increase. Divorce is common in the cities and in Tehran it has been registered as 18%, in her opinion number of divorces cases has remained static but because of changes to social criteria it has come under more scrutiny[3]

According to this statistic the average age of marriage in 2003 for women has been 23.7 and for men 26.3[4]. This is whilst, according to the law in Iran, the age of consent for marriage for girls is 13 and for boys is 15 and also the courts have allowed girls under the age of 13 to get married taking in to consideration her interest.

By noting the difference between the age of consent for marriage by law and the actual age that gets married shows that there are gaps in the behaviour pattern of the Iranian’s to what the laws are, whilst the age of consent for marriage allows the families in the poor areas to force marriage of their daughters at a very young age to older men, this law creates social problems for the girls.

Literacy over 15 years of age

According to national statistics in 2003, the rate of literacy for men over the age of 15 was 86.3% and women over age of 15 were 75.2%. Also the figures show that men have attendance in colleges was 37.42% and women 62.58% and the statistics also show that 2003 students populous that year was divided by 46.59% boys and 53.41% girls[5].

By looking at the figures the number of girls in education is higher than boys this can be interpreted that the society is responding positively to the role of women in the family and also shows that education is the only domain where girls have within reach. It has to be said that the idea that girl’s attendance has caused concerns within the leadership of the Islamic Republic and hence tried to alleviate the numbers by design of "Sexual Quota" in the universities. But this design has been contested by the students in particular the girls, students and the women rights activists have questioned the reasoning of the discrimination and criticised the action by stating that in the advanced countries for alleviating this kind of discrimination the governmental and civil right organisations are speaking of "positive discrimination" favouring women but in Iran this achievement by girls is being stopped by the authorities and.


In 1999 the figures were 2.16[6] which meant that each woman had given birth twice in her childbearing life cycle, which also means that the ratio of child birth was the same as rate of reproduction.

According to Marie Ladier-Fouladi in 1956 there were 8 children to a woman which the above figures indicates a decrease, she continues by stating that in 1978 during the revolution the figures were 7.2 children to each woman and between 1978 to 1985 the rate of childbirth was on the average the same but after 1985 the figures indicate a reduction of 1.5 this is because the population control program by the government. The rate of childbirth has had a reduction 70% in the last 16 years, Marie Ladiye believes that one of the reasons is the role of women perceived by women themselves in regards to family organisation[7].

Women in economy

According to 2006 national statistics on economic activities ( meaning a person can work but not necessarily have a job) for men was 64.2% and women 16.6%[8], according to same statistics the rate of men in employment was 57.7% and women 13.9% and also the rate of unemployment in 2006 was 10% and women 15.9%[9].

As the above figures are showing the official rate of the rate of employment in comparison is minimal, the economic structure of the country is as such that any employment opportunity created as a result of the inequality will be designated to men. The major activity of women in economy is unorganised, hence those occupation are not registered official. The economic crisis has made women to participate in the economy in as it is known "underground economy" such as baking, tailoring, teaching at home and selling hand made goods, hence in a way boosting the family income. What is in a way apparent because of the gap in salaries between men and women has caused women to stay away and stay at home.

According to 2003 statistics the difference in rate of income between men which is 89% and women which is 11%[10]. These differences indicate that women are systematically being ignored in the economy in today’s Iran and also the patriarchal laws on inheritance denies the equal share between men and women which makes women to be more deprived.

[1] Iran statistics centre- National year book 2003

[2] ibid

[3] Women Magazine NO 103 -Iran Getting Old- Interview with Dr Marie Ladier Fouladi Population expert

[4] Iran statistics centre- National year book 2003

[5] ibid

[6] Health Ministry Statistics – Health & education 1999

[7] Women Magazine NO 103 -Iran Getting Old- Interview with Dr Marie Ladier Fouladi Population expert

[8] Iran statistics centre- National year book 2006

[9] ibid

[10] Iran statistics centre- National year book 2003

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