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Iran appoints first female ambassador since 1979 Islamic revolution

Behrouzmehri, AFP | A file photo of Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Marzieh Afkham, attending a ceremony in Tehran in 2013

Iran appointed its first female ambassador abroad since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, choosing to send foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham to head its embassy in Malaysia, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced on Sunday.

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The post makes Afkham, one of Iran's most high-profile female public figures, the second female ambassador in the history of Iran and the first since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The only other female ambassador was Mehrangiz Dolatshahi, who served in Denmark in the 1970s.

Afkham praised Zarif for "the courage to take such a decision" and for his "trust in women", according to remarks cited by state news agency IRNA.

Zarif said that Afkham, who was also the first woman in the Islamic republic to serve as foreign ministry spokeswoman, carried out her duties for two years with "dignity, bravery and particular insight".

Human rights groups frequently criticise Iran's record on women's rights, including a high rate of domestic violence and girls forced into marriages at ages as young as 10.

After his 2013 election, Iran's moderate President Hassan Rouhani called on ministers to appoint women to high posts and said his government would stand up against discrimination, naming three women to the country's 11 vice presidential positions.

His predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appointed the Islamic Republic's first female minister in 2009.

While women may hold key posts, including in parliament and the cabinet, they can’t serve as judges and have not been allowed to run for president.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

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