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article imageAhmadinejad Proposing Female Ministers for His Cabinet

By Chris Dade     Aug 16, 2009 in World
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the man reelected as President of Iran in June's heavily disputed election, has announced that he wishes to include at least two female ministers in his new cabinet.
Dr Marziyeh Vahid Dastjerdi, a gynaecologist and obstetrician, and Fatemah Ajorlou, currently a member of parliament, have been nominated by President Ahmadinejad to serve as the Health Minister and the Social Security and Welfare Minister respectively. And there is apparently every possibility that when the full list of cabinet ministers is announced later in the week another woman will be included.
However, in a reflection of the the complexities that are currently afflicting Iranian politics, it seems uncertain which elements in a country at present witnessing the trial of over 100 key opposition figures will consider the proposed appointments most in keeping with their own ideas on how Iran should be governed.
Alireza Ronaghi is the correspondent for Al Jazeera in the Iranian capital Tehran and believes that it is the hard-liners within the Iranian establishment who will be dismayed by the President's choice of ministers, saying:It’s very important that Ahmedinejad has kept his promises. He's been a supporter of women's rights in his own way. It will be a step forward for women empowerment in Iran, but I'm sure he'll face more disapproval from some of his conservative supporters
An alternative view is offered by John Leyne, the correspondent for the BBC in Tehran. He reports that both potential ministers are considered "hardline conservatives" and cites Ms Ajorlou's support for a strict Islamic dress code for women and quotas for women attending university to back that assertion. For her part Ms Dastjerdi once proposed that health care provision in Iran be run on a segregated basis with women treating solely women and men treating only other men. Ms Dastjerdi's proposal was eventually defeated due to its impracticality.
Irrespective of their actual views on the issues affecting Iran, one person who believes that ultimately it is their gender that will decide if their appointments are approved by the Iranian parliament is journalist Hournaz Beheshti. After observing that President Ahmadinejad's nomination of the women was "a political move" designed to stave off recent criticism and "calm the situation" that some of his actions had created, Ms Beheshti added that with the majority of MPs being conservative men it was unlikely that Ms Dastjerdi and Ms Ajorlou would win approval to take up ministerial positions.
Reporting that female vice-presidents but no female cabinet ministers have served since the 1979 Islamic Revolution the BBC adds that Iranian MPs have made the President aware that members of his cabinet must be "experienced". It is not made clear what experience is necessary or whether the two female nominees meet that description.
With a further 28 people now going on trial facing charges related not just to the post-election protests but also to alleged activities for several years preceding the election, main opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi has launched a social movement named the Green Path of Hope which in Mr Mousavi's words has been formed for "the sake of people's rightful demands and for claiming their rights".
More about Ahmadinejad, Iran, Mousavi
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