Child Poverty in IranChild poverty in Iran runs rampant among young residents. In 2020, 50% of Iran’s population lived under the poverty line. The effects of poverty on children are dire and 9 million Iranian families currently struggle amid poverty, but organizations are stepping in to assist.

Contributors to Child Poverty in Iran

Families cannot earn enough money because of gender discrimination, unemployment and other factors. Only men can work well-paying jobs because of the large pay gap. In 2021, the Global Gender Report stated that women earn 19% of the wages a man earns for the same job.

With the significant differences in pay between men and women, women are often unable to help support their families. Additionally, the unemployment rate among men and women is very high. According to the World Bank, the unemployment rate for women was 16.1% and for men was 7.8%.

Along with the unemployment rate and gender discrimination, the cost of basic needs is high, so the majority of families’ wages go toward securing this. In Iran, high inflation rates directly impact the cost of food and groceries, making it difficult to afford basic essentials. In 2019, 33% of underprivileged communities’ income was allocated for food.

Poverty forces many children to make money for their families, but their wages are unlivable. Garbage collecting, run by the municipality contractors, is one of the main jobs children work to earn a living. In 2020, however, children made only 6% of the profits of garbage collectors. Of the children in the workforce, 60% are their families’ only source of income. Working to support their families has an impact on a child’s education. In 2017, “37% of Iranian students drop out before getting their diplomas.”

Impact on Iranian Children

The vast number of contributors to child poverty in Iran has destroyed the quality of life for children.

Food is all too often a scarcity among these children. They are unable to eat the minimum caloric intake, and numbers have only increased since the pandemic. According to the Global Hunger Index, in 2020, one out of three children were undernourished which can leave to a multitude of health complications, including children’s growth stunting.

Child marriage and trafficking are common in Iranian society. For little money, families sell their children, mostly girls, into marriage. In the summer of 2020, according to the Statistic Center of Iran, 9,058 girls were married before the age of 15. In some cases, child spouses run away from home or attempt suicide because of their treatment during their marriage.

Hope for the Future

The government and other organizations are working to stop child poverty in Iran. In 2020, the Guardian Council, the body in charge of approving legislation passed by the Parliament, approved a Child and Adolescent Protection Bill. The bill was later passed, inflicting penalties on people who prevent children from attending school or putting children in unsafe environments With this law, children in Iran are protected from various circumstances that could potentially be a danger to them and instead, can go to school to get an education

Organizations like Relief International work globally to dissolve poverty. Relief International was established in 1958 with its work in Iran beginning in 1990 after a large-scale earthquake in the country. Currently, Relief International works primarily to aid Afghan refugees in Iran while also mobilizing resources if a countrywide emergency occurs.

Recently, in 2021, because of Relief International, 22,000 people were taught hygienic practices, 3,500 families received cash support and thousands more received health care, education and other services. This is just one of the many organizations and institutions working to end poverty in Iran by providing support to those who reside there.

According to UNICEF, as of 2020, the mortality rate for Iranian children under 5 is 12.9%. Iranian children face increased risks of death due to a lack of food and basic needs. However, the Iranian government and other organizations are working to put an end to poverty.

– Janae O’Connell
Photo: Flickr