October 15 is the International Day of Rural Women, designed to draw attention to the plight of these marginalized women and help them get sustainable access to food to fight poverty, so we’re looking at rural women in Iran.
Here are some of the challenges faced by Iranian women, which are exacerbated in the case of rural women:
- early marriage
- education exclusion
- domestic violence
- limited access to sanitation, hygiene, and water
- little knowledge about their legal and social rights
Not only does the clerical system in Iran promote a culture of male-domination, but the villages reinforce this, with the warped idea that a “good” woman should tolerate all hardships, work herself to the bone, serve everyone in the family before herself, and protect her family even if it causes her physical and psychological decline.
This sexist culture, mixed with poverty and all of the other problems that the Iranian people face, means that rural women are one of the most marginalized groups in Iran.
Iranian Rural Women’s Education
Most rural girls drop out of school before their 10th birthday, having just five years of education in rundown facilities. There are many reasons for this, including having a hard time physically getting to the school from their remote house, facing possible attacks from wild animals and harassment from strangers on the way. Another reason would be poverty and a lack of access to essential equipment.
The Education Ministry’s advisor in women’s affairs, Farahnaz Mina’ipour, said it was impossible to have a high school in rural areas because so many teachers are needed, but this is a lie. It would be possible. Many other countries make it possible. They just don’t care and even try to blame families for not wanting their young daughters to travel long distances alone when they could be in danger.
Iranian Rural Women Face Early Marriage and Pregnancies
Many girls – some as young as 10 – are forced to drop out of school to marry men much older than them, which leads to early and repeated childbirth. This process is psychically, emotionally, and mentally damaging to young girls, leading to an early death.
Lack of Employment Opportunities for Iranian Rural Women
Because they were forced to drop out of education and have kids young, rural women have few job prospects and are essentially forced to work as slaves, doing various jobs in the village, alongside housework and childcare, without getting paid.
The Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) wrote: “Under the rule of a misogynous regime where women are considered second rate citizens, one could conceive what happens to these most deprived women who do not have any considerable access to the press or social media. So, speaking of women’s rights, human rights, human development, environmental protection, etc. are just a meaningless luxury without moving to isolate and remove the clerical regime dominating Iran.”