First Woman in Cabinet as Iran MPs Back List

Tuesday 8 September 2009

Oman Daily Observer:

Iran’s parliament yesterday backed a cabinet proposed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that includes the Islamic republic’s first woman minister. The assembly approved 18 of 21 nominees, propelling Ahmadinejad into his second four-year term. The candidates who failed to secure the required majority of votes were two other women nominees and Ahmadinejad’s pick for energy minister.

The first woman to join a cabinet in the Islamic republic will be Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi (pictured) at the health ministry. A gynaecologist and former MP, Dastjerdi, 50, was approved despite never having held an executive job in government. Dastjerdi described her selection as an "important step" for Iranian women. "I think today women reached their long-standing dream of having a woman in the cabinet to pursue their demands," she told the parliamentary news service. "This is an important step for women and I hold my head high."

The other two women nominees, Sousan Keshvaraz and Fatemeh Ajorlou, fell short of the required number of votes to take over the education and welfare and social security portfolios. Oil ministry nominee Masoud Mirkazemi, set to head the crucial portfolio of Opec’s second largest exporter, barely squeaked through after being harshly criticised by a powerful MP. Yesterday’s vote came after five days of heated debate saw some key nominees strongly opposed but still eventually approved. The confidence motion follows Ahmadinejad’s re-election and subsequent protests that divided the nation’s ruling elite.


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