August 9, 2017 / 2:40 PM / 2 years ago

Iranian president names three women to government posts after criticism

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani attends his swearing-in ceremony for a further term, at the parliament in Tehran, Iran, August 5, 2017. via REUTERS

(Reuters) - Iranian president Hassan Rouhani appointed two women vice-presidents on Wednesday, but made no changes to an all-male list of cabinet ministers criticized by reformists for its lack of female representation.

Massoumeh Ebtekar, head of the Department of Environment in Rouhani’s first term, was appointed vice-president for women and family affairs while Laya Joneidi was named vice-president for legal affairs. Another woman, Shahindokht Molaverdi, was made the president’s assistant for civil rights.

Vice-presidents do not have ministerial responsibility.

Rouhani had mentioned the importance of women’s rights in campaign speeches before May’s presidential election in which he won a second term.

Wednesday’s appointments are unlikely to placate all reformist supporters of Rouhani, who chided him on Tuesday when he did not include any female ministers in a cabinet list he submitted to parliament for approval.

Vice-presidents do not need parliamentary approval.

One widely-circulated post on social media showed Rouhani with his new all-male cabinet in front of a government building onto which a huge mustache had been photo-shopped.

“I won’t forget how people rallied votes for Rouhani,” one critic posted on Twitter in Farsi. “What’s happened with this reformist government that we now have to beg just to get one woman in the cabinet?”

Rouhani’s hardline predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had one female minister in his cabinet, though this was opposed by some clerics.

Reporting By Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by Richard Balmforth and Catherine Evans

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