Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, articulated his disgust with Iran’s extremely successful family planning program, telling the state-run newspaper, “We should take the age of marriage for boys to 20 and for girls to about 16 and 17. The marriage age for boys has reached 26 and for girls to 24,” he continued, “and there is no reason for this.”
Iran’s internationally lauded family planning program, which was implemented in the 1990′s following record birth rates in the wake of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, has suffered under the Ahmadinejad regime. Ahmadinejad, who sees the program as an “ungodly” Western influence, launched new financial incentives in July for every new child born. A third of the country’s population is already between the ages of 15 and 30, but Ahmadinejad has said that he believes that the country could feed up to 150 million.
Whether it should, of course, is another story (assuming that Ahmadinejad’s statement has a legitimate basis). 10 million people are estimated to live under the poverty line in Iran, and critics of Ahmadinejad’s policy have said that a growing population would simply exacerbate problems with unemployment, which is set at 9 percent with an estimated 3 million out-of-work adults.
There’s also the point, though, that women who get married at 16 are less likely to know what they’re getting themselves into, to wisely choose a spouse, and to make empowered reproductive choices. They’re also less likely to be able to create any kind of financial independence, which is difficult enough for Iranian women. So in that sense, Ahmadinejad’s badly conceived family planning programs are not just bad for Iran’s poor and unemployed, they’re also pretty misogynistic as well.
Photo from Flickr.