The Iranian government has appointed its first woman ambassador since the Islamic revolution in 1979. Marzieh Afkham is appointed to serve her country in Malaysia. She was previously working as the Spokesperson to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where she was the first woman to ever serve as the spokesperson for the Ministry. Ms. Afkham has been working in the diplomatic service for 30 years in various posts.
Ms. Afkham’s appointment has opened the arena for other women to aspire to such positions. The news about her appointment was well covered by many local as well as a few international mediums. Ms. Afkham has also been a strong supporter of human rights especially women’s rights. According to the state news agency IRNA, she has praised the current Foreign Minister, Jawad Zarif for his “trust in women and for the courage to take such a decision.”
IRNA reports that during a tribute to the 50 year old career diplomat, Mr. Zarif said, Ms. Afkham has “carried out her duties for two years with dignity, bravery and particular insight.”
After the current president, considered a moderate, Hassan Rouhani came to Office, he called on ministers to appoint women to key posts and promised that he will fight against discrimination. His predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the hardliner, appointed Marzieh Vahd Dastjerdi as the first female minister to the cabinet in 2009. She was appointed to the health ministry. Ms. Afkham is only the second woman ambassador in the history of Iran. Mehrangiz Dolatshahi was the first ambassador who served in Denmark in 1976. She held the position until the revolution in 1979.
Although women in Iran hold key positions, including the parliament and the cabinet, they cannot run for president, cannot attend male sports events, and has unfriendly laws to women in cases of marriage, divorce, and inheritance. Women in Iran are also not allowed to serve as judges.
Media Resources: The Guardian 4/14/15; France24 11/9/15