Instagram as a Means of Empowering Iranian Women by Focusing on Home-based Businesses

Main Article Content

Fatemeh Mahdipour


The focus of this study was to examine how Instagram can affect the empowerment of Iranian women by providing a platform for them to run their home-based businesses (HBBs). The data were collected through sixteen semi-structured interviews with Iranian women who ran their HBBs on Instagram, and Kabeer's empowerment framework was applied to the analysis. The results show that women's empowerment can be improved by running an HBB on Instagram. Participants in this study could achieve greater agency, facilitate access to resources, and improve their achievements by running their HBBs on Instagram. However, all the barriers to women's empowerment could not be overcome by using Instagram.

Article Details



[1] Abou-Shouk, Mohamed A, Maryam Taha Mannaa, and Ahmed Mohamed Elbaz. 2021. “Women’s Empowerment and Tourism Development: A Cross-Country Study.” Tourism Management Perspectives, 37.
[2] Aghazamani, Yeganeh, Deborah Kerstetter, and Pete Allison. 2020. “Women’s Perceptions of Empowerment in Ramsar, a Tourism Destination in Northern Iran.” Women’s Studies International Forum, 79.
[3] Ajjan, Haya, Stefanie Beninger, Rania Mostafa, and Victoria L. Crittenden. 2014. “Empowering women entrepreneurs in emerging economies: A conceptual model.” Organizations and Markets in Emerging Economies, 5(1): 16-30.
[4] Al-Dajani, Haya, and Susan Marlow. 2013. “Empowerment and Entrepreneurship: A Theoretical Framework.” International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research, 19(5): 503–524.
[5] Alkhaled, Sophie, and Karin Berglund. 2018. “‘And Now I’m Free’: Women’s Empowerment and Emancipation through Entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia and Sweden.” Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 30(7–8): 877–900.
[6] Anwar, Muhammad Naveed, and Elizabeth Daniel. 2016. “The Role of Entrepreneur-Venture Fit in Online Home-Based Entrepreneurship: A Systematic Literature Review.” Journal of Enterprising Culture, 24(4).
[7] Basu, Bharati, and Pushkar Maitra. 2020. “Intra-Household Bargaining Power and Household Expenditure Allocation: Evidence from Iran.” Review of Development Economics, 24(2): 606–627.
[8] Beninger, Stefanie, Haya Ajjan, Rania B. Mostafa, and Victoria L. Crittenden. 2016. “A road to empowerment: social media use by women entrepreneurs in Egypt.” International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, 27(2-3): 308-332.
[9] Boley, B Bynum, and Nancy Gard McGehee. 2014. “Measuring Empowerment: Developing and Validating the Resident Empowerment through Tourism Scale (RETS).” Tourism Management, 45: 85–94.
[10] Bryman, Alan. 2016. Social Research Methods. 5th ed. Oxford: Oxford university press.
[11] Cinar, Kursat, and Tekin Kose. 2018. “The Determinants of Women’s Empowerment in Turkey: A Multilevel Analysis.” South European Society and Politics, 23(3): 365–386.
[12] Cornwall, Andrea. 2016. “Women’s Empowerment: What Works?” Journal of International Development, 28(3): 342–359.
[13] Crittenden, Victoria L, William F Crittenden, and Haya Ajjan. 2019. “Empowering Women Micro-Entrepreneurs in Emerging Economies: The Role of Information Communications Technology.” Journal of Business Research, 98: 191–203.
[14] De Silva, Merenchige Thilini, Sirkku Männikkö Barbutiu, Kutoma Wakanuma, and S Dhameeth Gehan. 2021. “Empowerment through Women Entrepreneurship: A Case from the Beauty Salon Sector in Sri Lanka.” Journal of Women’s Entrepreneurship and Education, 2021(1–2): 121–146.
[15] Ebadijalal, Marjan, and Hiwa Weisi. 2021. “Discursive Constructions of Domestic Violence Among Iranian Instagram Users.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence.
[16] Esfandiari, Maryam, Bohdan Fridrich, and Junxi Yao. 2021. “Visual Content of Twitter during the 2018 Protests in Iran: Analysis of Its Role and Function.” Global Media and Communication, 17(2): 213–230.
[17] Fossey, Ellie, Carol Harvey, Fiona McDermott, and Larry Davidson. 2002. “Understanding and evaluating qualitative research.” Australian and New Zealand journal of psychiatry, 36(6): 717-732.
[18] Francesca, Maria Cesaroni, Demartini Paola, and Paoloni Paola.2017. “Women in business and social media: Implications for female entrepreneurship in emerging countries.” African Journal of Business Management, 11(14): 316-326.
[19] Francina, P X, and Mary Venus Joseph. 2013. “Women Empowerment: The Psychological Dimension.” Rajagiri Journal of Social Development, 5(2).
[20] Freeman, Richard, and Kristina Svels. 2022. “Women’s Empowerment in Small-Scale Fisheries: The Impact of Fisheries Local Action Groups.” Marine Policy, 136.
[21] Ganle, John Kuumuori, Kwadwo Afriyie, and Alexander Yao Segbefia. 2015. “Microcredit: Empowerment and Disempowerment of Rural Women in Ghana.” World Development, 66: 335–345.
[22] Ghoshal, Moloy. 2019. “Social media as an effective tool to promote business-an empirical study.” Global Journal of Management and Business Research, 19.
[23] Gressel, Christie M., Tarek Rashed, Laura Aswati Maciuika, Srividya Sheshadri, Christopher Coley, Sreeram Kongeseri, and Rao R. Bhavani. 2020. “Vulnerability Mapping: A Conceptual Framework towards a Context-Based Approach to Women’s Empowerment.” World Development Perspectives, 20.
[24] Hamid, Norsiah Abdul, Mohd Sobhi Ishak, and Norhafezah Yusof. 2016. “Assessing Validity and Reliability of Social Media as an Empowerment Tool for a Group at Risk in Malaysia.” Jurnal Komunikasi: Malaysian Journal of Communication, 32(1): 193–207.
[25] Hurley, Zoe. 2021. “#reimagining Arab Women’s Social Media Empowerment and the Postdigital Condition.” Social Media + Society, 7(2).
[26] Hussain, Faheem, and Sara N Amin. 2018. “‘I Don’t Care about Their Reactions’: Agency and ICTs in Women’s Empowerment in Afghanistan.” Gender & Development, 26(2): 249–265.
[27] Javadian, Golshan, and Isaac Y. Addae. 2013. “The Impact of Bureaucracies and Occupational Segregation on Participation of Iranian Women in the Workforce.” Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, 32(7): 654–670.
[28] Kabeer, Naila. 1999. “Resources, Agency, Achievements: Reflections on the Measurement of Women’s Empowerment.” Development & Change, 30(3): 435–464.
[29] Kabeer, Naila. 2003. Gender Mainstreaming in Poverty Eradication and the Millennium Development Goals : A Handbook for Policy Makers and Stakeholders. London: Commonwealth Secretariat.
[30] Kabeer, Naila. 2005. “Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: A Critical Analysis of the Third Millennium Development Goal 1.” Gender & Development, 13(1): 13–24.
[31] Mackey, April, and Pammla Petrucka. 2021. “Technology as the Key to Women’s Empowerment: A Scoping Review.” BMC Women’s Health, 21(1): 78.
[32] Manzoor, Shazia, and Tania Farooq. 2017. “Understanding the Linkages between ICT and Empowerment: A Gendered Perspective.” Trends in Information Management, 11(1): 94–110.
[33] Mason, Colin M, Sara Carter, and Stephen Tagg. 2011. “Invisible Businesses: The Characteristics of Home-Based Businesses in the United Kingdom.” Regional Studies, 45(5): 625–639.
[34] Miniesy, Rania, Engy Elshahawy, and Hadia Fakhreldin. 2021. “Social Media’s Impact on the Empowerment of Women and Youth Male Entrepreneurs in Egypt.” International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, 14(2): 235-262.
[35] Modarresi, Meisam, Zahra Arasti, Kambiz Talebi, and Maghsoud Farasatkhah. 2017. “Growth Barriers of Women-Owned Home-Based Businesses in Iran: An Exploratory Study.” Gender in Management: An International Journal, 32(4): 244–267.
[36] Mohammadi, Shahrzad. 2019. “State Control and the Online Contestation of Iranian Female Spectators and Activists.” Communication & Sport, 8(4–5): 651–667.
[37] Naguib, Rabia. 2022. “Motivations and Barriers to Female Entrepreneurship: Insights from Morocco.” Journal of African Business.
[38] Nazier, Hanan, and Racha Ramadan. 2018. “What Empowers Egyptian Women: Resources versus Social Constrains?” Review of Economics and Political Science, 3(3/4): 153–175.
[39] Nikjoo, Adel, Kevin Markwell, Mohanna Nikbin, and Ana Beatriz Hernández-Lara. 2021. “The Flag-Bearers of Change in a Patriarchal Muslim Society: Narratives of Iranian Solo Female Travelers on Instagram.” Tourism Management Perspectives, 38.
[40] Niknam, Fatemeh, Mahnaz Samadbeik, Farhad Fatehi, Mohammad Shirdel, Mahboobeh Rezazadeh, and Peivand Bastani. 2021. “COVID-19 on Instagram: A Content Analysis of Selected Accounts.” Health Policy and Technology, 10(1): 165–173.
[41] Noor, Amna, Zahid Asghar, and M Irfanullah Arfeen. 2021. “Role of the ICT in Women’s Empowerment and Achieving SDGs 2030: A Case Study of Pakistan by Using PDHS Data.” Journal of Managerial Sciences, 15: 17–36.
[42] Noor, Shaista, Filzah Md Isa, and Leilane Mohd Nor. 2021. “Women Empowerment through Women Entrepreneurship: A Comparison between Women Entrepreneurs and Fulltime Housewife in Pakistan.” Iranian Journal of Management Studies, 14(2): 347–363.
[43] Olanrewaju, Abdus-Samad Temitope, Mohammad Alamgir Hossain, Naomi Whiteside, and Paul Mercieca. 2020. “Social media and entrepreneurship research: A literature review.” International Journal of Information Management, 50: 90-110.
[44] Park, Joo Y., Chang Soo Sung, and Il Im. 2017. “Does social media use influence entrepreneurial opportunity? A review of its moderating role.” Sustainability, 9(9).
[45] Patil, D. A., A. M. Dhere, and C. B. Pawar. 2009. “ICT and Empowerment of Rural and Deprived Women in Asia.” Asia-Pacific Journal of Rural Development, 19(1): 1–22.
[46] Phan, L Y. 2013. “Women’s empowerment and fertility changes.” International Journal of Sociology of the Family, 39(1/2): 49–75.
[47] QSR International. 2022. QSR International. (Accessed 25 July, 2022).
[48] Quisumbing, Agnes, Ruth Meinzen-Dick, and Hazel Malapit. 2022. “Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality in South Asian Agriculture: Measuring Progress Using the Project-Level Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (pro-WEAI) in Bangladesh and India.” World Development, 151.
[49] Raghunandan, Varsha. 2018. “Changing Equations: Empowerment, Entrepreneurship and the Welfare of Women.” Journal of International Women’s Studies, 19(3): 187–198.
[50] Rahbari, Ladan. 2019. “Pushing Gender to Its Limits: Iranian Women Bodybuilders on Instagram.” Journal of Gender Studies, 28(5): 591–602.
[51] Reuschke, Darja, and Colin Mason. 2022. “The Engagement of Home-Based Businesses in the Digital Economy.” Futures, 135.
[52] Rodríguez-Modroño, Paula. 2021. “Non-Standard Work in Unconventional Workspaces: Self-Employed Women in Home-Based Businesses and Coworking Spaces.” Urban Studies, 58(11): 2258–2275.
[53] Saleh, Yasser. 2021. “ICT, Social Media and COVID-19: Evidence from Informal Home-Based Business Community in Kuwait City.” Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy, 15(3): 395–413.
[54] Salehi, Asiyeh, Bernadette Sebar, Dean Whitehead, Nahid Hatam, Elisabeth Coyne, and Neil Harris. 2020. “Young Iranian Women as Agents of Social Change: A Qualitative Study.” Women’s Studies International Forum, 79.
[55] Sell, Mila, and Nicholas Minot. 2018. “What Factors Explain Women’s Empowerment? Decision-Making among Small-Scale Farmers in Uganda.” Women’s Studies International Forum, 71: 46–55.
[56] Shakiba, Sahar, Omid Ghaderzadeh, and Valentine M Moghadam. 2021. “Women in Iranian Kurdistan: Patriarchy and the Quest for Empowerment.” Gender & Society, 35(4): 616–642.
[57] Shata, Aya, and Michelle I Seelig. 2021. “The Dragonfly Effect: Analysis of the Social Media Women’s Empowerment Campaign.” Journal of Creative Communications, 16(3): 331–346.
[58] Tur-Porcar, Ana, Alicia Mas-Tur, and José Antonio Belso. 2017. “Barriers to Women Entrepreneurship. Different Methods, Different Results?” Quality & Quantity, 51(5): 2019–2034.
[59] Ukpere, Celestine Lugaye, Andre D. Slabbert, and Wilfred I. Ukpere.2014. “Rising trend in social media usage by women entrepreneurs across the globe to unlock their potentials for business success.” Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 5(10).
[60] United Nations. 2015. Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. New York: United Nations.
[61] Virtanen, Henrik, Peter Björk, and Elin Sjöström. 2017. “Follow for Follow: Marketing of a Start-up Company on Instagram.” Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 24(3):468-484.
[62] Walker, Elizabeth, and Beverley Webster. 2004. “Gender Issues in home-based businesses.” Women in Management Review, 19(8): 404–412.
[63] World Economic Forum. 2021. Global Gender Gap Report. Geneva.
[64] Wynarczyk, Pooran, and Jayne Graham. 2013. “The Impact of Connectivity Technology on Home-Based Business Venturing: The Case of Women in the North East of England.” Local Economy, 28(5): 451–470.