Water in IranFrom Antiquity to the Modern Era, control of water and its sources has long been a cause for war. Sadly, this continues to be the case even nowadays, with border clashes emerging between Iran and Afghanistan. Caught in the crossfire is the civilian population of a region that is in sore need of access to water amidst a drought in the area. This article will cover the border conflict, what the Iranian government is doing and organizations fighting to expand access to water in Iran.

The Conflict

The source of discrepancies lies in the river Helmand, flowing from the Afghan mountains into Iranian Balochistan. Since 1973, the Helmand River Water Treaty has regulated the amount of water that flows into Iran. Tensions still persisted, however, and after the Taliban took over Afghanistan in 2021, they surged once again. Afghanistan allegedly breached the 1973 treaty by repeatedly withholding more water than stipulated. Most recently, in May 2023, one of these clashes threatened to escalate into a full-blown war after a deadly encounter in Milak-Zaranj.

The Iranian population has been hit hard by the Afghan retention of water. Droughts in Iran have had a steady intensification pattern for the past 40 years, and this only rubs salt in the wound. The region has suffered from desertification and, with one of its primary water sources compromised, access to irrigation water could be at high risk. This issue extends to the entire nation, as Iranian water consumption per capita is significantly above its yield of renewable water sources. High consumption paired with low availability threatens to worsen access to water in Iran, with large parts of its population suffering from water insecurity.

What the Government Is Doing

With regard to the Helmand River, Iran has urged its neighbor to abide by the 1973 treaty and fulfill its obligations in international law. Nevertheless, it has also adopted a conciliatory tone to avoid the risk of escalation. An open war over water still seems unlikely, but should environmental patterns persist, it would be naïve to discard this possibility.

As for the water provision for its population, the Iranian government heavily subsidizes water prices to make it affordable to its population. While effective in achieving its goal in the short run, this policy has increased water consumption in the country. Moreover, the government’s focus on food self-reliance through subsidies has further strained water consumption in agriculture. All in all, this subsidy policy has exacerbated the country’s drought problem.

To address these issues, there have been several studies on Iranian soil to tackle these unwanted consequences and to identify more water-efficient farming methods. So far, these investigations have yielded mixed results, but even if they managed to improve efficiency, the population needs more to reduce water consumption and make access to water in Iran sustainable in time. 

What Is the Role of NGOs?

Access to water in Iran is a hot topic among international NGOs. Notably, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has taken measures to alleviate the effects of drought in the region, targeting to provide aid to 916,200 people during the 2021-2022 drought season. Furthermore, there have also been efforts by Relief International to address the economic effects of droughts and help 30,000 people in need gain access to water, education and financial aid.

Prospects for the Future

Access to water in Iran is a growing issue and, as such, its government should start to pursue policies to address it more actively. Water importation or more water-efficient methods are examples of policies that, while politically improbable, could help lift some of the pressure off the population’s shoulders.

– Daniel Pereda
Photo: Flickr

Child Marriage in IranChild marriage is illegal in 153 countries. However, it is not in the past and still occurs legally quite frequently in 45 sovereign states. Despite the immense decline in matrimonies among minors, the numbers still remain disturbing in the eastern part of the world. One of the countries with a high prevalence rate of child marriage is Iran. 

Economy in Iran 

Iran is a Middle Eastern country known for its fossil fuel sources. The United States Department of Energy proclaimed Iran the world’s third-largest oil and second-largest natural gas reserves holder. Despite its abundance of lucrative resources, Iran’s Parliament Research Center reported that 30.8% of the population faces financial hardship

Legal and Illegal Child Marriages

The pervasiveness of underaged marriages is one of the reasons that detriments the economy of Iran. UNICEF shortlisted Iran in the top five countries with a high rate of child espousal in 2020 in the Middle East and North Africa. According to Iran Open Data, one out of five marriages is among minor people. The Islamic government established the legal age of marriage to be 13 for girls and 15 for boys. However, the Islamic Republic civil code permits people to get married below the set age with a legal guardian’s consent. 

Despite scientific research recording the physical, mental and moral harm caused by early marriages, Iranian law still allows it. Moreover, numerous cases of illegal marriages occur on a religious basis that forces girls to wait for their majority to get married legally. Therefore, an underaged wife is not eligible for endowment or financial support in case of the loss of her husband. In addition, society always demands young women to quit academic institutions in order to take care of the household. 

Economic, Mental and Moral Harm of Early Matrimony

The law’s acceptance of child marriage in Iran results in early pregnancy, illiteracy and social barriers for young women. All these factors are detrimental to the flourishing economy and society of the country because they lead to the gender gap in the community and workplace. 

Early marriage not only harms the economy of Iran, but it also motivates pedophilia and child mistreatment because Islamic Republic laws on marriage permit alternative forms of sexual pleasure besides penetration until the age of 9 for spouses. Hence, child marriage traumatizes girls and ruins their lives from an early age. 

The Effect of COVID-19

COVID-19 raised the number of early marriages. Iran Open Data announced a sharp increase in child nuptials. COVID-19 provoked this type of marriage after a gradual reduction previously. The Civil Registration Organization reported 118,000 registered underaged marriages, which is 9000 extra from the past years. 

Hope for Iranian Girls From the Government 

Regardless of a rapid spike in underaged marriages, the situation remains hopeful. Currently, the Iranian government is undertaking measures to prevent child marriage by increasing the age of the legal espousal for both men and women to 18 years old. The Iranian government has accepted for consideration an adjustment of the Civil Code to enlarge the legal age for matrimony. The law’s implementation will result in positive outcomes for the communal and financial future of the country. 

Furthermore, Iran aims to banish early and involuntary marriage by 2030. Apart from the legislation, Plan International has presented five solutions to thwart underaged matrimonies. It emphasized education and empowerment of young ladies to help the community be more supportive and accepting of women’s rights. Plan International offers to petition the Iranian government about the importance of girls’ development which they are not able to get because of forced and child marriages.

Positive Outcomes 

Augmentation of marriage age will result in a higher prevalence of education for both men and women. Since society will not force girls to abandon school in order to take care of their husbands and offspring. Thus, this change will affect the economic condition of Iran because more women will be able to work

It is important not only from an economic point of view but also from a social perspective, considering that girls will receive an opportunity to fulfill their potential in society. 

– Stephanie Len
Photo: Flickr

Disability in IranAccording to a survey published in the Iranian Journal of Public Health, the prevalence of disabilities stands at 13.5 per 1,000 individuals in the population. This means that approximately 1.35% of the population in Iran is living with at least one type of disability. People with disabilities represent a significant and often overlooked minority within the population. More concerning, the occurrence of disabilities is higher in rural areas than in urban areas and exhibited a higher prevalence among men compared to women. Poorer provinces in Iran exhibited a higher prevalence of disabilities such as blindness, deafness, vocal disorders and hand disorders compared to wealthier provinces, and individuals with disabilities experienced lower socio-economic status in comparison to those without disabilities.

Neglecting the Disabled: A Deep-Seated Issue Beyond Sanctions

While Iranian officials often point to international sanctions as the cause of their nation’s hardships, it is evident that the neglect of disabled individuals predates these measures. Blaming external factors only highlights their lack of attention to the issue.  

Even if sanctions were lifted, there’s little assurance that meaningful change would occur. The lack of action thus far casts doubt on the government’s commitment to rectify the situation for people with disabilities. 

Blind Heroine Defies Odds: Empowering Iran’s Fight Against COVID-19

Samaneh Shabani, a remarkable 30-year-old, experienced firsthand the challenges COVID-19 posed to a blind individual, which disrupted her primary sensory connections to the world. Undeterred by her disability or societal prejudices, Samaneh has remained resolute in pursuing her goals. With a master’s degree from the prestigious University of Tehran and a recently defended Ph.D. dissertation on “Violence Against Women with Disabilities and their Access to Justice,” she is now a dedicated law lecturer and a passionate advocate for people with disabilities during this crisis. Through her internship at UNIC Tehran and her work with the Tavana NGO, she actively communicates accurate information and strives to change public perceptions, addressing the real concerns of those with disabilities. 

Samaneh’s unwavering commitment to an inclusive society is evident as she bridges the gap between the NGO and the UNIC, emphasizing the importance of verified information and direct community engagement. While acknowledging the limitations her blindness imposes on certain activities, she remains pragmatic, calling for actionable changes by governments, the private sector, civil society and individuals to create a more accessible world. This pandemic has taught her the significance of unity and kindness in ensuring that no one is left behind. 

MOHAM: Empowering Lives through Accessible Solutions

MOHAM, a non-governmental organization, was established a little less than half a decade ago to address inaccessibility in Iran. According to one member, “MOHAM” means “supporter” in Persian and “lawyer” in Arabic, and they rely on self-support for their operations. While MOHAM hasn’t achieved the comprehensive infrastructure overhaul it aimed for, the NGO provides a variety of small but impactful services that significantly improve individuals’ lives. Some of these services include free home improvements, such as widening door frames to allow wheelchair passage without difficulty. 

A volunteer explains that enlarging a door might not appear significant, but it can be unaffordable for families with financial constraints and caring for a sick family member. MOHAM steps in to support these families by performing these small acts of kindness for them. Additionally, MOHAM collaborates with other charities helping to eliminate poverty and disability in Iran. The organization conducts workshops in various cities, educating people about diverse types of disabilities and appropriate ways to interact with and offer support to disabled individuals. According to an attendee, this type of training is not provided by the government, and it falls upon private and non-governmental organizations like MOHAM to take the initiative. 

Looking Ahead

Amid the challenges that Iran’s disabled population faces, individuals like Samaneh Shabani are proving the power of resilience and advocacy. Samaneh’s determination, displayed through her academic achievements and active engagement, highlights the potential to drive positive change for people with disabilities. Organizations like MOHAM are also making meaningful strides by addressing inaccessibility issues through small but impactful services that directly improve lives. These stories illustrate that, despite existing disparities, there are individuals and groups working toward creating a more inclusive and supportive society for those with disabilities in Iran.

– Negar Borhani
Photo: Unsplash

Child Soldiers in IranAn anonymous former Iranian soldier shared with an Iranwire reporter the profound impact the Iraq-Iran War had on his life. At just 14 years old, he was sent to the frontlines, robbed of the joys of adolescence, such as going to school and experiencing love. This practice of using child soldiers in Iran commenced during the Iraq-Iran War in 1980 and has persisted, with reports of its employment as recently as 2022. Notably, Iranian government officials specifically target children from impoverished families, enticing them with promises of financial rewards and martyrdom.


After the 680 CE Battle of Karbala, the glorification of martyrs within the Shiite religion (the official religion of Iran) started. The Sunni Caliph Yazid killed Hussain ibn Ali, the third Shiite Imam and grandson of Muhammad, along with his fellow fighters (including children) during this battle. Due to the praise that martyrs receive, the Iranian government commonly recruits child soldiers by promising them martyrdom.

In 1979, Iranian ayatollahs (Shiite religious leaders) introduced child martyrdom into school curricula throughout Iran. They promised children as young as 9 years old that dying as martyrs against the Iraqi enemy would lead them straight to heaven. This teaching continues to be part of the curriculum, as a 2021-22 interim update report on Iran’s radical education revealed that authorities teach students to seek suicide or death in battle even when not required.

Common Duties for Child Soldiers in Iran

Clearing minefields is one of the common duties assigned to child soldiers in Iran. Former New York Times foreign correspondent, Terrence Smith, brought attention to the mine-clearing process that young boys were involved in during the Iraq-Iran war. Many boys between the ages of 12 and 17 would wear red headbands with inscriptions like “Sar Allah” or “Warrior of God” and carry small metal keys around their necks, symbolizing their “keys to heaven” as they prepared for battle.

Military authorities took measures to prevent desertion by binding the child soldiers with ropes. Despite facing withering machine gun fire, these brave children fearlessly hurled themselves on barbed wire or marched into Iraqi minefields to clear the way for Iranian tanks. Their courage and sacrifice in performing such dangerous tasks highlight the unfortunate reality of child soldiers in Iran.

Iran’s authorities exploit child soldiers as propaganda tools, showcasing them in pro-regime media with placards that glorify Iran’s involvement in various wars. Additionally, there are repeated mentions of children in speeches at parades commemorating the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Sadly, this practice of involving children in warfare only exacerbates the poverty Iran confronts.

Connection to Poverty

Approximately 60% of Iranians are grappling with poverty and among them, 20 to 30 million are living in absolute poverty. The use of child soldiers in Iran contributes to this distressing cycle. In their quest to join the war efforts, many child soldiers fall for incentives that particularly appeal to impoverished families.

In 2022, the Iranian government employed young boys to suppress anti-government street protests. Disturbing images of children and young men donning military uniforms and holding batons circulated on social media. Reports from more than 500 supporters of the Imam Ali Society, a local charity in Iran, indicated that authorities recruit these children from impoverished families, offering them a meager exchange of “a few bags of food.”

Moreover, poor families exploit their children’s “martyr status” for benefits. They receive monetary compensation per child involved in conflicts and a martyr card granting them access to food and other privileges. This exploitation of children as both tools of suppression and sources of financial gain further exacerbates the challenges of poverty faced by many Iranian families.


The use of children as soldiers has long been a concern of the United Nations (U.N), but there are currently no reported Iran-specific initiatives to prevent this troubling practice. A governmental pattern of recruiting child soldiers persisted as recently as March 2022.

However, UNICEF has been diligently working to support children in Iran for nearly seven decades. Its efforts include providing essential services such as health care, immunization, proper nutrition, access to education and protection. Additionally, UNICEF maintains regular communication with Iranian authorities to safeguard children’s rights.

Globally, UNICEF has taken action to end the use of children as soldiers through its impactful 2014 Children, Not Soldiers campaign. This initiative, in collaboration with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, aimed to garner international support to halt the recruitment of children in conflicts. The campaign focused on countries like Afghanistan, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen. Member states, the U.N., NGO partners, regional partners and the general public promptly rallied behind this vital cause, culminating in the campaign’s success in 2016.

Regrettably, Iran persists in using children as tools of war. But sustaining awareness about this critical issue and receiving support from organizations like UNICEF could play a pivotal role in ultimately ending the use of child soldiers in Iran, once and for all.

– Taylor Barbadora
Photo: Flickr

Higher Education in IranThe Islamic Republic of Iran is a developing nation that sits along the Persian Gulf in Central Asia. Currently, it has an estimated population of more than 87.5 million, and as of 2019, about 27% of people were living below the international poverty line, according to the World Bank. With that percentage on the rise in recent years due to the devastating impacts of COVID-19, higher education in Iran has suffered significantly. Fortunately, several organizations are working to provide a fair chance at higher education for underserved people.

A Brief History of Higher Education in Iran

The 1979 Islamic Revolution redefined the political structure of Iran by creating the Islamic Republic. As the nation began to desecularize, almost all universities stopped operations until 1983 during the revision of curricula. Simultaneously, post-revolutionary policy emphasized funding for creating rural infrastructure but invested little in ensuring equal access to secondary education and creating job opportunities. Consequently, employment prospects have faced limitations, even for students who completed higher education in Iran.

For instance, the 2016-17 Iranian census reported unemployment rates of 34.6% and 45.7% for college-educated men and women, respectively. Therefore, Iranian young people have increasingly left the country to pursue higher education elsewhere and university enrollment rates within the country have substantially dropped. For example, in 2014-2015, there were 4,811,581 students enrolled at Iranian universities, and this number decreased by more than a million to 3,616,114 students in 2017-2018.

Growing poverty in Iran has only exacerbated the dropping rates of college graduates, with many families unable to afford even basic education for their children. As of 2019, an estimated 7 million Iranian children were “deprived of education” due to poverty. Furthermore, financial difficulties forced about 25% of enrolled students, especially females, to drop out of school.

Particularly in rural communities, a lack of sufficient educational facilities, funding to maintain schools and increasing tuition rates are heightening barriers to secondary education. Simultaneously, low university admission rates, high college graduate unemployment rates and nominal government support for college students are dissuading struggling families from applying for higher education in Iran. Equally, exorbitant international fees make education abroad an impossibility for some 33% of Iranian families who, according to estimates, are now living in extreme poverty.

Improving Accessibility

In light of recent sanctions and other economic shocks, Iran’s GDP growth in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic has been modest. While this has limited the government’s ability to provide support for college students, organizations like A More Balanced World (AMBW) have remained committed to providing funding and opportunities for students who cannot access education due to poverty.

With programs in 11 countries around the world, AMBW’s Iranian program funds first, secondary and university-level education for students from struggling families. Its scholarships and sponsorships are having a profound impact on Iran’s youth. For example, AMBW supported Siavosh, a student from Iran’s Hamadan Province, beginning in the eighth grade, making it possible for him to complete his education at an elite school and pursue his dreams as a weightlifter.

Another organization investing in higher education in Iran is Keep Children in School (KCIS), which is working “to break the cycle of poverty by providing financial support for educational needs of underprivileged children.” Focusing specifically on countries including Iran and Afghanistan, KCIS supports primary through university-level education and offers opportunities for donors to provide individual sponsorship for children in need. To date, the organization’s financial assistance has facilitated the education of more than 1,800 young people.

Looking Ahead

Education, especially higher education, can be a gateway out of poverty, allowing disadvantaged young people to gain control over their futures and secure meaningful livelihoods. While there appears to be a need for efforts that focus on creating a more sustainable job market within Iran, organizations like AMBW and KCIS are helping the country’s youth obtain the higher education needed to reshape the future.

– Inaya Lala
Photo: Flickr

Universal Basic Income in Iran
Universal Basic Income (UBI) in Iran was originally implemented in 2011, making it one of the first countries to use such a program. While there have been some opponents to this program, it largely remained successful in comparison to existing welfare programs.

Universal Basic Income and Poverty

Universal basic income is used in developing countries to fight poverty and to promote health and education, where the population does not have enough resources to fulfill these needs on their own. Iran started their universal basic income program in 2011 in the form of cash transfers.

The government started monthly deposits of cash into individual family accounts amounting to 29% of the median household income and 6.5% of the GDP. This amounts to about $1.50 extra income per person per day.

In the 40 years prior, there have been subsidies on bread and energy, so people paid less for bread, water, electricity, heating and fuel. This program was changed to the cash transfer program in 2011 because the government believed that energy subsidies always benefit the wealthy more than the poor and also because energy subsidies encourage more fuel consumption which is detrimental to the environment.

Universal Basic Income and Labor Supply

One of the main concerns people had before this program was implemented was that it would negatively affect the labor supply. It was believed that if people received money from the government unconditionally, there would be no incentive for them to work at all.

However, the only negative labor supply that was affected was people between the ages of 20 and 29. But this age group did not have a strong connection with the labor market even before the Universal Basic Income program in Iran was implemented. This is because Iranians have the choice to enroll in tertiary and graduate education, thus largely preventing this age group from working.

Rationing is prevalent in the market for formal work in the private and public sectors, where jobs are highly sought after. Employees are attached to their jobs and are unlikely to withdraw from their positions. This is apparent even with the population receiving cash assistance.

Positive Impact of UBI

Of the individuals employed in 2010, 88.5 percent remained employed, 4.5 percent lost or quit their jobs and the rest became inactive in 2011. Of the unemployed, 26.3 percent found work in 2011, which is about the same number as those who lost their jobs in 2011. Of those engaged in housework in 2010, 3.2 percent found jobs in 2011, which is fewer than those who left their jobs for housework.

There was a positive impact of the universal basic income program on the service sector. This can be explained by the fact that the service sector is populated by credit-constrained small firms that cash transfers can help expand. Some examples of workers in the service industry are housekeepers, teachers and deliverymen. In fact, their weekly hours had increased by roughly 36 minutes.


The overall conclusion is that the program did not affect labor supply in any appreciable way, according to a paper published by economists in 2011. Universal Basic Income in Iran is a proven program despite the fact it went through modifications. It serves as an example of the benefits a UBI has that other countries can look to for comparison.

– Casey Geier
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Iran

Poverty in Iran has been fluctuating over the years. There are many reasons for this, but also many solutions that the government, citizens and other countries can take to make changes and help those in poverty. The current population of Iran is around 82 million, and in 2017,  28.40 percent were unemployed youth.

According to a World Bank study, poverty in Iran is estimated to have fallen from 13.1 percent to 8.1 percent between 2009 and 2013. This was most likely because of a universal cash transfer program in late 2010 that focused on eliminating the subsidies on energy and bread. However, poverty is still a major issue. According to another World Bank study, poverty increased again in 2014 and declining social assistance could be a potential reason.

Poverty in Iran is not only affecting citizens’ ability to afford basic necessities, but is also causing negative issues related to mental health, including suicide, in Iran’s youth. Regardless of all the causes of poverty, there are actions being made to make changes.

Income Gap Causing Problems

Unemployment is a major problem in Iran. Many individuals are working more than one job to afford basic necessities and pull themselves and their families out of poverty, while others are barely working at all. According to an Iranian economist, “there are currently 3.3 million jobless people in the country.” This is due to the increasing income gap between the rich and the poor. The minimum wage jobs of many individuals with lower incomes can not help them move out of poverty and the wealth gap has been expanding. On top of this, there aren’t enough jobs to go around.

According to World Bank statistics, unemployment in Iran was 11.26 percent in 2016, 11.06 percent in 2015 and 10.57 percent in 2014. There is hope that the unemployment rate will keep going down by creating more jobs and having the government adopt new approaches to pull individuals out of poverty.

In 2017, President Rouhani stated that his government wants to prioritize reducing unemployment and creating around 900,000 job opportunities per year. On the other hand, Labor Minister Ali Rabiei said that realistically his government can create 300,000 to 400,000 job opportunities annually.

Sanctions Hurt the People Too

U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran don’t only affect the politicians but the citizens too. Sanctions are seen as one of the major causes of food insecurity, mass suffering and eventual high poverty rates. According to The Economist, 75 million Iranians are suffering from the U.S. sanctions imposed on them. Oil, for instance, is the largest source of income for Iran. When there is no oil coming, there are no U.S. dollars, and everything purchased in Iran is with U.S. dollars. With no U.S. dollars, the value of Iranian rial is falling drastically, causing many companies to go bankrupt. Therefore, they have to let a lot of employees go.

The World Bank released a report on the economic improvement in Iran and stated that many of the economic developments in Iran are due to the removal of the sanctions over the country’s nuclear energy program enforced in 2016. Removing the sanctions will make living conditions for Iranian citizens in poverty less difficult. However, as of November 2018, the U.S. is imposing the sanctions again and informing and requesting all other countries, including India, China and the European Union countries, to stop working with Iran. With reinforced sanctions that were in place before 2016, there is a lot of unrest and fear among citizens for more unemployment and more people going into poverty.  

Action to Reduce Poverty

Poverty in Iran can be seen as a major issue, exasperated by the upcoming sanctions on businesses and oil in the country as well as the increasing gap between the rich and poor in society.  However, statistics show that creating jobs and removing sanctions can significantly improve the lives of Iranians living in poverty. Communication is key to global change.

– Negin Nia
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Human Rights in Iran
In March 2018, the U.N. Human Rights Council and the U.S. Mission in Geneva restated their concerns about the state of human rights in Iran, such as the rigorously restricted rights of both expression and freedom that are enforced by Iranian authorities. People are arrested and imprisoned for expressing different beliefs and the punishments for crimes include floggings and amputations. Iranian authorities have refused to allow U.N. specialists to get involved. These facts about human rights in Iran explore some of the recent and ongoing issues in the country.

Facts About Human Rights in Iran

  1. In the presidential elections of May 2017, President Hassan Rouhani was elected for a second term. However, he was elected due to a discriminatory election process that included the disqualification of candidates based on their gender, religion or political opinions.
  2. The first large-scale anti-establishment protest since 2009 happened at the end of December 2017. Many Iranians protested against the ongoing poverty, corruption and political restrictions in their country.
  3. In 2016, 203 people were executed by law enforcement by October. Different human rights groups also say that the number may be higher, stating that more than 437 people were killed because the majority of executions occurred during the second part of the year.
  4. The U.S. imposed its first injunction on Iran for violations of human rights in 2010. As a result, 10 different Iranian administrators were given financial constraints and were banned from traveling to the U.S.
  5. The United Nations Children’s Rights Committee stated in March 2016 that flogging continued to be used as a lawful punishment for boys and girls who had been sentenced for crimes. Despite amendments to Iran’s penal code, children were still being executed in 2016.
  6. Another fact about human rights in Iran is that there have been continuing restrictions on media and obstructions of foreign television stations. In addition, Iranian authorities have banned 152 journalists from making any financial transactions.
  7. Iranian authorities continue to restrict medical care for prisoners. These prisoners are forced to live in horrible conditions, including overcrowding, little to no hot water, insect infestations and poor food quality.
  8. Different intelligence organizations in Iran continuously monitor citizens’ activity on social media websites like Twitter and Facebook. Multiple civilians active on social media have been arrested for comments made on the platforms.
  9. Women in Iran face heavy discrimination in personal matters like child custody, marriage and divorce. A law that is still in place today is that women need a male guardian’s permission to get married, even if the woman is an adult.
  10. Trials in Iran continue to be unfair, including prejudices against Iranians with dual citizenship. These citizens and foreigners endure lengthy prison sentences, unfair trials and capricious arrests.

These facts about human rights in Iran shed light on the maltreatment Iranian people have to endure. President Rouhani has been in office for three years, and though he based his campaign on improving human rights conditions, the situation remains the same in Iran.

– Alyssa Hannam
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Iran

As Iran is currently at the epicenter of geopolitics and regional conflicts in the turbulent Middle East, the country’s role in international affairs is steadily growing in importance. Moreover, the Iran nuclear deal is also revitalizing Iran’s presence and significance on the global stage at the same time.

The Current Situation in Iran

According to the World Bank Group, Iran’s GDP in 2017 was $439.5 billion while its population peaked at 80.6 million. On the poverty alleviation front, poverty in Iran fell from 13.1 percent to 8.1 percent between the years 2009 to 2013. Also, in the changing dynamic of its domestic politics and a new wave of secularism and liberalism brought on by a burgeoning young population in the country, addressing poverty in Iran is a very key objective for various stakeholder groups.

However, according to a report by the Independent from Dec. 2017, the economic situation in Iran appears rather bleak in some regard because food prices are on the rise and unemployment figures are at an all-time high at over 12.4 percent. Expanding income inequalities in the country are also becoming quite widespread due to major deficiencies in the taxation and welfare systems offered to the people.

How Iran’s Political Climate Could Affect Poverty

Historically, since the culmination of the Pahlavi dynasty and revolution in Iran in 1979, the country’s social and economic progress has been a vital priority. In recent years, owing to the perceived threat of its nuclear arsenal, Iran’s diplomatic relations with its western counterparts have impacted its trade and commerce majorly due to the imposition of crippling international sanctions.

Furthermore, the changing attitudes of the Trump administration are a major threat to the deal as it may be detrimental to the future economic and diplomatic recovery Iran is trying to seek. Unfortunately, the collapse of the deal could be a major hindrance to countering poverty in Iran.

The Iran nuclear deal can help greatly bolster the capacity to alleviate poverty in Iran due to the level of investment Iran could easily achieve in the future with the expansion of its oil market, given its vast and abundant reserves. Iran can boost its oil output, GDP and household incomes in the future with diminished sanctions.

Consequently, the introduction of the Iran nuclear deal was followed by noticeable economic recovery in the country with Iran’s economy growing at an annual rate of about 12.5 percent after a sizeable contraction of about 1.6 percent in the year 2015. The country hopes to maintain growth amounting to four percent annually.

Alleviating Poverty in Iran through Investment

Moreover, remediating poverty in Iran can also be achieved by increasing the level of investment and tapping into Iran’s potential. Iran is beginning to expand and diversify its industries, especially its hydrocarbon, agriculture and services sectors, and is also continuing to focus on boosting its financial and manufacturing capabilities as well. Additionally, this may help decrease Iran’s over-reliance on its oil market as prices have often tended to remain quite volatile, especially in recent years.

The government is also implementing its twentieth-year vision and sixth five-year development plan in order to focus more on market-based reforms and techniques. This strategy is targeting three important realms: economy, science and technology. The subsidy reforms orchestrated by the government will directly help reduce poverty in Iran as they aim to target price adjustment and further increase cash transfers to low-income households in the country.

Alleviating poverty in Iran shall largely depend on existing and future initiatives that involve opening up the economy further, engaging in economic and trade liberalization with its key trading partners and embarking on further domestic structural reforms.

– Shivani Ekkanath
Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in IranIn 2016, about 80 percent of people in Iran were impoverished. Poverty in Iran can lead to a variety of other issues, including negative effects on the mental health of the country’s youth. Mental health issues in Iranians are found to be linked to a plethora of factors, economic pressure being one of them. Due to the poverty faced by many, suicide is becoming a more common issue.

In addition to affecting the mental health of young people in Iran, the country’s high poverty rate also impacts people’s physical health. With how negatively poverty has affected the people of Iran, it is essential to consider what the causes of poverty in Iran are.

Top Causes of Poverty in Iran

  1. Sanctions in Iran are cited as a cause of the country’s high poverty rate. These sanctions have affected multiple groups, one of which is Iran’s millions of Afghan refugees. Statistics have demonstrated that Afghans who are able to find work are self-sufficient and actually better the economy of Iran.
  2. Inflation is another cause of poverty in Iran. In early 2013, Iran’s inflation rate stood at nearly 40 percent. The depreciation of the country’s money has lead to an increase in the unemployment rate, which has driven many Iranians into poverty. A solution to this issue that the government of Iran has sought in the past was rationing, which prevented the country’s impoverished populations from being as affected by inflation.
  3. Besides sanctions and inflation, another cause of poverty in Iran is high medical costs. Each year, 7.5 percent of Iranians are driven into poverty because of their medical expenses. Among the top three most common illnesses to affect Iranians is cancer. Many times, the cost of treatment for families is so high that those affected by illness are not able to complete their treatment.

The high poverty rate in Iran has affected millions of Iranian citizens and has taken a toll on the mental health of the country’s youth. Among the most prominent causes of poverty in Iran are sanctions, inflation and medical expenses. As of mid-2017, the government of Iran is working toward implementing a reform agenda, which aims to help businesses and labor markets. The reform agenda is targeted at Iran’s overall goal of reducing its poverty rate. Though they face hard times as a result of their medical and economic status, children and families remain hopeful for the future.

– Haley Rogers

Photo: Flickr