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Rohani Picks Female Vice-President After Vow to Back Women

Vice President for legal affairs Elham Aminzadeh, right, holds a doctorate in international law from the University of Glasgow and teaches at the Tehran-based Allameh Tabatabaei University, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency and the state-run Fars news agency. Photographer: Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images
Vice President for legal affairs Elham Aminzadeh, right, holds a doctorate in international law from the University of Glasgow and teaches at the Tehran-based Allameh Tabatabaei University, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency and the state-run Fars news agency. Photographer: Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images

Aug. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Iran’s President Hassan Rohani, who has promised to back women’s increased participation in Iranian society, appointed Elham Aminzadeh as his vice-president for legal affairs.

Rohani cited her “scientific competence and judicial qualifications as well as legislative experience and moral merits” in his appointment letter, which was published on the president’s website. Rohani appointed former industry minister Eshagh Jahangiri as his first vice-president a day after he took the oath of office.

During his presidential campaign, Rohani pledged to create more jobs for women. Rohani, a cleric and trained lawyer, has also criticized the government of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for having increased police patrols and the use of force to ensure women’s hair and body curves were covered.

Aminzadeh, a former member of the parliament, holds a doctorate in international law from the University of Glasgow and teaches at the Allameh Tabatabaei University in Tehran, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency and the state-run Fars news agency. Aminzadeh’s doctoral thesis was titled “The United Nations And International Peace and Security: A Legal and Practical Analysis.”

Some female activists had criticized Rohani for nominating only men for his 18-member cabinet. The candidates’ background and qualifications are being reviewed by the parliament this week for approval.

’Good Step’

The appointment is a “good step” in battling the discrimination felt by Iranian women in the workplace, said Shahla Ezazi, a sociologist and the director of the women’s studies group at Iran’s Sociology Association in Tehran.

If Aminzadeh “has been active in politics and management and has been identified by the president as one of the top people in this country, then it is her right,” Ezazi said in a phone interview. It wasn’t “a favour.”

Ezazi said she wasn’t familiar with Aminzadeh and unable to comment on her accomplishments or suitability for the role.

The presence of women in the Iranian government isn’t unprecedented. Mohammad Khatami, president from 1997-2005, appointed a female vice-president for the first time. It was under Ahmadinejad, who was president for eight years until earlier this month, that Iran’s Islamic Republic got its first female cabinet minister.

The president may appoint as many deputies as he wants to perform his duties under the Islamic Republic’s constitution, which doesn’t specify a cap on their numbers.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ladane Nasseri in Dubai at lnasseri@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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