In Iran, despite the fact that 60 percent of the university students are female, the unemployment rate among women is three times more than men.
In just a couple of weeks in New York at the United Nations General Assembly, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be approved and they will establish a framework for nations’ development work for the next 15 years.
Women can play a key role in achieving the SDGs and to highlight the crucial role that women can play, on 16 September in Tehran the Second International Conference on Role of Women in Sustainable Development was held.
Amongst the attendees were Vice-President for Women and Family Affairs, Ms. Shahindokht Mowlaverdi and the UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Gary Lewis.
Speaking at the event, Ms.Mowlaverdi said: “Women’s entrepreneurship is one instrument of economic growth and development. It is the most important area that can enhance the sustainable development process.”
Ms. Mowlaverdi went on to add: “The Gender Empowerment Measure is a powerful tool in implementing sustainable development programs and there are three factors affecting that index:
And “women in development approach” will help us greatly in achieving the 8 percent economic growth targeted in the upcoming five-year economic development plan which runs with 2016 to 2021.”
She said the next decade will focus on knowledge-based economy, technology and entrepreneurship with special focus on women’s role in the society.
Mr. Lewis also spoke at the event stating: “I believe events like what we have here today can help to improve Iranian institution support for women’s economic empowerment – especially the empowerment of vulnerable women in rural areas.”
Mr. Lewis went on to add that the United Nations has been present in Iran since 1948 and has worked with partners to provide options to empower women in their communities through public and private business partnerships by mainstreaming gender-sensitive budgeting in government process, and through events and opportunities such as providing social mobilization through micro-credit schemes.
Highlighting one of UN’s key projects in this field, Mr. Lewis said: “There is one initiative that the UN is working on in 18 provinces in Iran to work to provide micro-credit to women in poor rural areas. As a result of this, women have an income stream – they have cash – and they become much more empowered to make decisions about their lives.”
Mr. Lewis then focused on the 17 SDGs and how the issue of women’s empowerment are very visible and prominent.
In this regards Mr. Lewis said: “Of those 17 goals, one in specific terms focuses on women. It is Goal Number 5. The goal says: “To achieve gender equality and to empower all women and all girls […] And I would like to read some of the specific results under that goal for you, so that you can – for those of you who have not had a chance to look at the SDGs – see what the nations of the world – the global community – wishes to set as an objective for its future for the next 15 years. I will read 7 of these planned results.
In his concluding remarks, Mr. Lewis asked the boys and men in the audience “to think about the way men think about women” as he strongly believes that part of the solution to inequality and the oppression that some women face around the planet is as a result of the way men think about women.