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The Struggle in Workplaces to Eliminate Discrimination against Working Women

In recent years, the Iranian women have been persistently fighting for their violated and trampled rights in many arenas. They have street vendors in Gilan Irancampaigned against compulsory hijab (head and body covering), Retribution Bill (equal retaliation as punishment for an offence, in Islamic jurisprudence and penal law), the so-called “Family Support” bill which legalizes the lack of rights of women, child marriage, gender segregation (in schools, buses, and other public places), domestic violence and other cases of violence against women, and child abuse. The Iranian women have relentlessly fought for the equal rights in education, the right to go to sport stadiums and attend public sport events, and to defend the rights of the children. Other important struggles of the Iranian women have been in the areas such as, but not limited to, equal rights with men, equal pay for equal work, equal employment opportunity, and pension and health care services, particularly for marginalized women.

The implementation of dreadful economic policies in Islamic Republic of Iran in recent decades in favour of the interests of the grand capitalists has deteriorated the living condition and livelihood of the working people. In addition to these policies, the misogynist laws and viewpoints of the ruling theocratic regime in relation to employment, social status, and wages of women, have exacerbated the livelihood of the working women. Most of the working women work in small manufacturing shops. Since the shops with less than 10 employees are exempt from the codes of the Labour Law, the working women in such shops are not covered by the Labour Law, do not have health and medical coverage, pension plan, and other benefits warranted under the Labour Law. To make things worse, more than 95% of working women are forced to sign temporary 1-, 2-, or 3-month contracts, or even blank contracts of employment.

The utterly inhumane living condition of the working women has caused numerous hardships in their livelihood, and furthermore, the issue of unfair wages is threatening their very subsistence. For example, the Court of Justice ruled that the ban on firing the working women during the first several months that they are breast feeding and taking care of their baby is illegal, and revoked it! The working women are faced with discriminatory rules and regulations in their workplaces at all levels and positions. They are paid less than their male counterparts for the same work.

Unemployment: working women are first in line

The implementation of the so-called “workforce adjustment” (i.e. massive layoffs) and privatization have caused massive unemployment of women in factories and manufacturing/service sector as well as in public sector. When collecting and analyzing the data about unemployment, the person is not considered unemployed if s/he has worked for a mere one hour in a week! Yet, the statistical results showed 24.5% unemployment among the men aged between 15 to 24, whereas this figure was 42.5% among the women. The situation is worse in marginalized and poor provinces where the rate of unemployment ranges from 62.5% to as high as 86.4%.


The violated rights of the women as the head of the family

According to a report released by the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) last summer, “there are more than 2.6 million women who are the heads of the family” out of whom “only 180 thousand are covered under the social services (welfare program).” The number of such women has increased by 10% in the past five years.

Currently (as of early March 2018) the minimum wage stands at 1/5 of the established line of poverty! As reported by the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA), there are “at least twenty million people who are among the minimum wage earners or have precarious jobs.”

This dire condition of the working people of Iran is the result of the “free market economy” in the past three decades. The mass protests in over 80 cities in last December were the product of such tragic policies. What has deteriorated the living condition and status of the Iranian women, particularly the female workers, and has driven them to poverty, is the socio-economic policies of the theocratic regime of Iran, along with the misogynistic laws imposed on the women. The working women are an inseparable part of the trade union movement of the working people, and some of their demands are:

  • Equal pay for women and men, for equal work
  • Ending the gender discrimination in filling jobs (equal employment opportunity)
  • The right to wear the clothing of their choice
  • The right to paid maternity leave, before and after giving birth
  • Pension plan and Medicare
  • Unemployment insurance

The women of Iran, and particularly those in work, are left with no choice but to fight for their rights. They need all the support and solidarity the can get domestically and internationally.

MaZanan – 28.03.2018

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