On Tuesday, November 2, 2021, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, announced the final approval of the Population Growth Plan. The plan is Ali Khamenei’s executive policy, proposed since 2013, to keep women at home under the pretext of regenerating or increasing the population.
In early May 2013, the mullahs’ supreme leader spoke with disgust to his admirers. He described the role of women in society as housekeepers and mothers of children. Khamenei underlined, “Housekeeping and pregnancy is a great and artistic job for women”.
In June 2013, the regime’s parliament began working on a plan to meet Khamenei’s demands. Indeed, the aim was to violate the rights and freedoms of women, as usual.
However, courageous Iranian women ignored Khamenei’s plan. As a result, he resumed his work in September 2016, reinstating a 16-article decree encouraging women to have children and take full responsibility for housekeeping. He also called for the creation of an inclusive national movement to promote and simplify marriage.
Attempt by new mullahs to force women to stay at home
In a speech before the final approval of the population growth plan, Qalibaf hinted that Khamenei had failed to gain support for the plan. In the public session of parliament on November 2, he made unfounded promises to support families and provide housing and economic incentives.
Qalibaf added: “Last year in July, the Supreme Leader took repeated measures in the area of protection of the population and the family, but so far we have not seen any significant results or effective. Therefore, supporting the family by focusing on their concerns in all areas has been one of the most important goals and priorities of the Eleventh Legislature. “
Quoting a report from a statistical institution, Qalibaf claimed that married women, aged 15 to 49, wish to have three or more children. However, they avoid having multiple children due to lack of support, neglect of policy makers, as well as socio-economic pressures.
The speech outlines how the regime officially recognizes the tragedy of child marriage and refers to children under 18 as potential mothers. It also projects motherhood as the role of Iranian women in society and their main concern.
It is then that Iranian women publicly voice their main concerns every day. A glance at the protests and demands of teachers, nurses, pensioners, farmers, etc., clearly shows that the main concerns of Iranian women are freedom, justice, non-discrimination, reduction of poverty, social rights and the eradication of government corruption.
The protection of the family, a pseudonym to violate the rights of women
Under the guise of “family support”, the regime prevents the empowerment of women by keeping them under the control of their husbands. This means that the wife must receive permission from her husband to leave the house, travel, work outside, etc. Therefore, plans and laws like the Population Growth Plan are just tools and methods to impose further restrictions on women and deny them their freedoms.
The Population Growth Plan was the first plan of the 11e Parliament received nine months after its formation. The plan is officially called the Inclusive Plan for Population and Family Excellence, and also known as the Plan for Population Growth and Family Support. The parliamentary committees responsible for revising the Population Growth Plan held 19 meetings in December 2020 alone.
Compare that to the bill to prevent violence against women. After 10 years of dragging its feet, the flawed bill stagnated in parliament for ten months despite the heartbreaking and growing rate of violence and murder against women.
The regime’s parliament has prioritized a plan that goes totally against women’s rights instead of tackling the major issues of poverty, unemployment and coronavirus management.
With its false economic promises such as loans for young couples and subsidized pregnancy fees, the Population Growth Plan promotes the violation of women’s rights in society.
The terms of the plan, which will soon be enforced as law, severely restricted abortion and pregnancy screenings. It violates women’s rights to reproduce, to choose to have children, to determine the number of children and the interval between births, to have access to information and to use contraceptives and drugs. for sexual health – all rights recognized by the United Nations.
In addition, the application of this law pushes women to have several children and will have serious consequences for mothers who are already deprived of protection against other forms of gender-based violence.
The consequences of implementing such policies are not only legal, but also cover health and economic aspects. On the one hand, the Population Growth Plan will endanger the job security of women in an already insecure and precarious market for women. On the other hand, the plan overshadows the collective social role of women as an economically productive and socially effective force.