The rate of women's activity is closely related to their level of education. Female university graduates are 4 times more likely to be in the labor market than women with a high school diploma and 13 times more likely than illiterate women.

Since 1975, the power of women in the Iranian family has been steadily increasing. In Iranian families, there is a march towards democratization and the reduction of the role of men in decision-making. According to a 1975 opinion poll, for 72% of respondents, it is the men in the family who make the decisions univocally. In 2004, this proportion decreased to 33%.

Education of women in Iran

With the spread of free education and the evolution of society towards a greater social recognition of the need for women to learn, women's education has grown steadily. During the 1977-1978 academic year, there were 175,675 students in Iran, of whom 30.8 per cent were female students. In 1996-97, this number reached 1,192,538, with 38.5% of women. In 2000-2001, this number increased to 1,577,000, of whom 47.3% were women. In 2011, there were 4,117,208 students in Iran, 51% of whom were women.

In 1976, the literacy rate was 59% for men and 36% for women. In 2006, the gap between the literacy rate of women and men fell sharply to 8% (89% for men and 81% for women).

For some, the high number of female students has created a feminization of the university in Iran. However, equality to the right of access to higher education invalidates this criticism. This vision also does not take into account opportunities for women to access the labor market after graduation.



The reasons of the increased presence of Iranian women in higher education

Many individual and social causes push Iranian women to embark on higher education. The personal reasons are of the order of the search for the personal fulfillment, the financial independence, the active participation in the society and the social ascent. Among the social reasons are the high rate of inflation in the Iranian economy, and thus the rise in the cost of living (which forces some women to work), the spread of consumer culture, globalization or media development and the images they convey.

Statistics on enrollment rates at different levels of education (with the exception of primary school) show, since the 1990s, the generalization of a female social norm of access to higher education and the fight against poverty. generic discrimination. From the first National Entrance Competition to Universities held after the "Cultural Revolution" in 1983, we can already see that out of a total of 312,685 participants, 131,427 are women and 151,258 are men.



The presence of women in managerial positions

The female presence is comparatively weak in the labor market, especially in management positions. According to statistics, in 1996, there were 726 female managers in Iran, 27% of whom were senior managers, 9.2% middle managers and 83.77% basic managers. However, from 1996 to 2001, the number of female executives increased significantly, with annual growth of 32.10%, from 726 to 11,286.

According to the 2001 statistics, the two Ministries of Health and Economy and Finance, with respectively 64.25% and 31.19%, employ the largest number of female directors. The Ministry of Defense with 0.9%, the Parliament with 0.25% and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with 0.67% have the lowest number of women executives among the governmental bodies.

The rate of women's activity is closely related to their level of education. Female university graduates are 4 times more likely to be in the labor market than women with a high school diploma and 13 times more likely than illiterate women.

Given the country's economic growth, the low presence of women in senior management positions indicates that Iranian society is not quite ready to see them in such positions. This situation stems from the ancestral culture and customs that are evolving, albeit slowly. On the basis of a national survey conducted in 2003 on the values ​​and attitudes of Iranians, the majority of the population (about 75%) agree with the idea that women work. Yet many married men do not support the idea that their wives work. It should be noted, however, that statistics show that this vision is also changing: in 1974, 74% of married men were opposed to their women working, compared to 69% in 2004.

According to polls published in 2011 by the Iran Center for Statistics, women's economic participation rate is 36.9% for all economic actors, with respectively 35.8% for urban areas and 39, 8% for rural areas.

This rather low rate of women's economic participation echoes the female unemployment rate, which is double the unemployment of men. The unemployment rate for men and women was respectively 10.5% and 20.9% for the year 2012.


The type of jobs held by women in Iran

According to the official statistics available, only 13% of female employees work in offices, the others working from home. In addition, according to a survey conducted in 2006, 29.6% of employees are university educated, and 20.1% are artisans. It appears that the majority of women in the craft and manual trades sector do not have a university education.

Women make up 49.8% of all university graduates and 42.8% of the labor force. This shows that the majority of graduates can find work in the national market. High-level civil service and highly skilled occupations make up 18% of the Iranian labor market and 14% of active men are employed there, compared to 40% of women, which shows that they need better qualifications. men to enter the labor market, which also seems to partly explain their number at the university.

According to the president of the Iranian Center of Statistics Adel Azar, the Iranian labor market remains mainly oriented towards men. He also believes that the trades available are often more suitable for men. However, he believes that the decrease in the economic participation rate of women from 14.1% to 12.6% between 2010 and 2011 does not show a significant trend.

The law passed by the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution defines the essential duties of women first and foremost as a wife and mother. Section 5 of this Act categorizes desirable occupations for women from a gender perspective, dividing them into four types: the first group includes occupations that respect the physical and psychological specificities of women, with the example of the occupations of research , electronic and computer engineering, pharmacology, public and social assistance professions, language trades such as translation and writing ... The second category includes trades recommended by the Islamic tradition such as trades medical, scientific research, medicine, or teaching. The third category includes unisex trades, where only experience and qualification count, such as labor. The fourth category concerns occupations prohibited to women or deemed dangerous, such as firefighting or the judiciary.

Unequal conditions of work for women exist at all levels, including recruitment, salary and promotion opportunities, etc. They derive from Iran's cultural, economic and social structures.


Problems Arising from the Interference Between Professional Duty and Responsibilities in the Family for Women

In traditional societies, it is generally considered that the essential task of women is to bring up children and manage the household. Thus, they have less opportunity than men to learn and prefer trades that can be done at home.

According to article 1106 of the Iranian Civil Code, it is the husband's responsibility to pay his wife permanent support and to provide adequate housing, clothing, food and comfort for his status. It must be able to have help in case of illness or disability. Article 1199 of the Civil Code stresses that it is up to the father to pay the children's expenses and after the death of the father or his incapacity, this duty is exercised by the father's family. According to Article 1117 of the Civil Code, the husband may prohibit his wife from practicing a profession which he considers detrimental to the interests or dignity of the family or of himself.


Women's education has been growing steadily in Iran in recent decades. The most important reason is first and foremost the progression of their education which allows them to enter the labor market. However, despite the significant rise in their enrollment rate in tertiary education, the number of women occupying positions of responsibility remains negligible. The view that men must be the main suppliers of labor power remains fairly widespread in Iranian society. Women are considered economically dependent and ideally placed to stay at home to care for children. Their professional activity is seen as a help to cover extra burdens and a little increase in family income, but not a coherent career search. This current opinion justifies the discrimination against them. Others even claim that the high rate of unemployment among men and the lack of job opportunities is linked to the presence of women.

This opinion is accepted by some social strata. According to this mentality, if the number of job offers is low, the priority is for men who are considered to be the support of the family; the idea that the role of women is secondary, continuing to exist in the labor market.