News of Marzieh Afkham’s elevation as Iran’s first woman ambassador since the 1979 Revolution, broke on Wednesday, but I’m not sure why there is quite so much cheering. Ms Afkham has, in many ways, been the Islamic Republic’s envoy to the world for 19 months. She was, of course, appointed foreign ministry spokesperson – the first woman in the job – in September 2013.
If anything, that was a greater achievement.
Till Ms Afkham, Iran had never had a woman ‘voice’ of the foreign ministry. But it has had a female ambassador before. The Guardian reports that under the last Shah, Mehrangiz Dolatshahi became ambassador to Denmark. That was in 1976 and she carried on until the Revolution.
But here’s something interesting about Ms Afkham’s elevation to ambassador. She is nearly 50 and is reported to have married last year, presumably just in time for this new job because the authorities aren’t keen to promote unmarried women.
(Tomorrow: Female spokespersons are becoming quite the fashion in Muslim capitals)