ANDARUNI. Women and entrepreneurship in Iran





Andaruni is the most secret and intimate part of the Iranian house. A veil divides andaruni from priyng eyes and careless guests. A curtain comes down from the sky covering ancient treasures, golden mouths, gleaming eyes. A simple breath of wind can’t raise the curtain. Andaruni is traditionally reserved for women, but despite stereotypes that would get women locked inside the house, some of them are managers and they love their job as Western women do.


“Mitra, there is no difference between you and your brother” – her father told her – and she believed this: “Yes, women can do it, even in this field.” In her office in Tehran, Ms. Etemad is the manager of Epico Bik, leader in the extraction and refining mining: 400 employees, 5 mines, several factories across the country and contracts with major oil companies worldwide. “I wanted to prove to my father that I could do it. And then I would not have to bear the marriage, or to work as an employee receiving half the salary of a man”. Mitra left the chair and, like a drowning man observes the life swarming over the window. “Women must be aware that there are no vacations, children or friends. You can not make mistakes in this field.”. “Do not you ever relax?”. ‘Well’, I have my free zones: Kish or Dubai. Shopping paradises”.

Malieg Ascarian lives in Hamedan and she works in an old bus that every day is transformed into a restaurant of delights: ash reshteh, ashke bademjan, sandwiches, koofteh sabzi, and ghormeh sabzi. Malieg peels potatoes, and describes the menu she served for the last presidential delegation visiting the city. The idea of the bus- restaurant is not her latest idea. After years of awards for inventing new professions, Malieg is teaching entrepreneurial creativity at the University of Hamedan Karafarini. “I want my experience to become an example for those who can not find a work” she explains. “Until few years ago I carried forward 14 different jobs, but due to the age I saw myself forced to abandon some and create new ones.. I am sixty years old. Do you believe me? “.

Shahanz is the lady of the organic rice, the best farmer of Iran in 2010, with all the honors conferred directly by the Minister of Agriculture. The story of the manager Shahanz and Ali, the husband- housekeeper, has fascinated everybody in Iran. “Since I can remember I have always worked. The rest is passion”. Shahanz does not speak so much, Ali is a storyteller indeed. They look like two sweethearts: “You sent me many letters,” teases Ali, “asking me to get married. I was irresistible..” “The milkman will never say that his milk is not good,” Shahanz replies. She laughs, gets up and returns to her fields.