Iran presents an interesting case of uneven achievements across dimensions. There are good accomplishments on financial inclusion, with almost 9 in 10 women having access to financial accounts, compared with a South Asian regional average of less than 2 in 5, and a similar high share of women using cellphones. Iranian women average about eight years of schooling compared with a regional average of four years. On the other hand, Iran performs considerably worse on the Women, Peace, and Security Index relative to its per capita income rank, dropping a hefty 57 places.

In particular, legal discrimination is a significant barrier to gender equality in Iran and is among the factors pulling the index rank down to 116. According to the World Bank, there are 23 restrictions against married women in Iranian law, including in applying for a passport, traveling outside the home, choosing where to live, and being head of the household. Women cannot get a job or pursue a profession in the same way a man can; they cannot be ensured of equal pay for equal work, and there are no laws to restrain gender discrimination in hiring. There are no laws that penalize or prevent the dismissal of pregnant women from work, nor are there laws that provide rights for paternity or parental leave or tax deductible payments for childcare. The Iranian Civil Code confers power on a husband to pre- vent his wife from taking any job found to be incompatible with the family interest or the dignity of the husband or his wife. Women have no legal protection against domestic violence or sexual harassment by anyone, and the constitution has no non-discrimination clause with gender as a protected category.