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Women can play larger role in Iranian economy

Structural reforms to facilitate entrepreneurship by Iranian women would be a boost for Iran’s economic growth.
EDITORS' NOTE: Reuters and other foreign media are subject to Iranian restrictions on their ability to film or take pictures in Tehran.

A woman works on a traditional embroidery at a handicraft exhibition in Tehran June 13, 2011.  REUTERS/Caren Firouz (IRAN - Tags: SOCIETY) - RTR2NMBK

Iran is facing a socioeconomic issue in women’s unemployment. According to an article published in the March 2014 issue of Iran Economics, only 13% of the workforce consists of women and the latest official statistics for women's unemployment stands at 15.6%, though unofficial unemployment figures for this group is 38.3%. Furthermore, only 9.2% of the entrepreneurs in Iran are women.

It is true that these figures are somewhat distorted, as many women in Iran decide not to enter the official workforce due to social limitations and prefer to work from home. Based on many studies, a sizable segment of Iran’s unofficial economy consists of women’s occupations that are carried out in their homes (from tailors to hairdressers to caterers). However, when one looks at younger women who are looking for employment, the country is facing an unemployment rate of 42.7% in the age group between 18 and 24. According to Mohsen Ranani, professor at the University of Esfahan, some 75% of female university graduates remain without an appropriate job, and that is a heavy price for a country that is aiming to grow its economy. 

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