In the past eleven months, many Iranian breadwinners have lost their employment due to the coronavirus outbreak, which imposed additional pressure on low-income classes, particularly working families.
Up to 70 percent of the Iranians who lost their jobs during the pandemic were women, according to the Labor Ministry. Worse still, 62 percent of those employed in recent years don’t have insurance that would cover them for losing their job through no fault of their own and many are tied to contracts that prevent them from joining unions, so they are utterly alone when issues like this come up.
“For months, I worked as a daily rate worker in a store selling manteaux in downtown Tehran. I got paid based on the number of manteaux I sold to people. The employer also gave me a part of his profit, but I did not have a written contract or insurance. I have been working in the past several years in shops selling women’s clothing, but I have never had insurance,” said one woman who lost her job in the clothing industry.
Deputy Labour Minister Issa Mansouri admitted that women are the primary victims of this crisis back in December, but didn’t do anything, suggesting that they are creating jobs for women by increasing opportunities to work from home.
Nonetheless, this doesn’t take into account that working from home jobs, like handicrafts and sewing, are much more vulnerable to the strains of the pandemic or that women are less likely to have incomes that meet their livelihoods and any significant savings. Female heads-of-households are especially hard-hit because they are losing the one salary that was providing for all the family.
“Women’s employment was reduced by 749,000 individuals in spring 2020, compared to the same time last year. Another 120,000 women lost their jobs from spring to summer 2020. These statistics show how much the outbreak of the Coronavirus has impacted women’s employment,” said Alaeddin Asvaji, general director of the Labour Ministry’s office of policy-making and expansion of employment.
That’s nearly one million women who have lost their jobs in Iran in one year, who are now struggling to make ends meet because the government is offering them no real support, even though the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei controls hundreds of millions of dollars that could easily be distributed. Much of this money, ironically, is held in institutions that are supposed to help the poor.
It feels certain that this situation will continue as long as the current ruling theocracy stays in power, with women bearing the brunt of this, as always.