By Jubin Katiraie

A state-run news agency in Iran has reported that more than a third of women with higher education in the Kurdistan region are unemployed. The region’s Director General of Women and Family Affairs, Leila Ajhir, said that the figure is 38 percent.  

At the beginning of 2016, the Iranian regime itself said that the rate of unemployment for women with education was almost 86 percent. Given the dramatic economic downturn since then, the current figure is likely to be much worse.  

A woman across the country, educated or not, face major challenges in the working environment. Women are often denied jobs, just for the simple fact, they are female. And those that are lucky enough to be employed are subjected to very unfair working conditions and are often denied permanent contracts and formal employment. They are also a major disparity between the level of wages between men and women in the country. 

 The Iranian president’s deputy for women and family affairs has also pointed to the situation, saying that although the employment situation in Iran is dire across the board, the situation for women is significantly worse. Massoumeh Ebtekar said that there are four times more unemployed educated women compared to men.  

However, despite the repression the Iranian women face, there is a great desire on the part of all of society for the situation to change. During the recent uprisings, the women of Iran have taken a leading role and they are showing that they are determined to be free and to obtain long-overdue rights.  

The democratic movement has been heavily impacted by the women of Iran. This has unfortunately led to more and more women being arrested and thrown in jail for their activism. Women have not shied away from the bigger protests where suppressive forces have attacked crowds with great brutality and they have continued with their resistance in prison.  

According to the Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), women participated in 436 protests last year. The figure for this year so far is at 1,500 – more than triple.  

Women from all sectors of society are participating in strikes, protests and anti-government demonstrations. Young females, retired workers, teachers, farmers – women from varying backgrounds.  

Female political prisoners have also made it clear that they will not be silenced. Maryam Akbari, in a letter from prison, said that her nine years of imprisonment have not turned her into a victim – rather she has remained “proud and steadfast”. She vowed to continue fighting for justice for her brothers and sisters and said that she will demand justice for the life the regime has taken from her and her children.  

Another political prisoner, Zeinab Jalalian, in an open letter from prison, also declared that she will continue on her path and will not let the regime and its brutal forces dissolve her will. She said: “No one and nothing is strong enough to prevent me from achieving my goals”.