The Middle Eastern country’s new leader, Hasan Rowhani, has named law professor Elham Aminzadeh to the influential position of vice president of legal affairs. Aminzadeh earned a Ph.D. in international law from the University of Glasgow and has served in the Iranian parliament.

The appointment came after criticism from female activists that Rowhani was initially picking only men for his cabinet, but the choice is more than merely a gesture. Having promised to enhance women’s roles in the workforce and Iranian society, Rowhani is starting to make good on his word. It is also part of an effort to include Western educated moderates in the Iranian government in order to begin repairing relations with the West and strengthening the Iranian economy. The president stated that he picked the law professor thanks to her “scientific competence and judicial qualifications as well as legislative experience and moral merits.”

Though under former President Mahmoud Ahmadenijad there was a female cabinet member, Aminzadeh’s appointment is still viewed as evidence of progress, according to Bloomberg News:

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.”

The parliament is expected to vote on the cabinet nominations next week.

—Posted by Natasha Hakimi

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