Iran's Parliament Approves First Female Minister and a Terrorist Suspect

Iran’s parliament approved the appointment of the country’s first female minister since the Islamic Revolution but rejected two other female candidates in a vote that endorsed an alleged international terrorist and a number of military hardliners.

President Ahmadinejad sounded a defiant note as he celebrated the approval of all but three of his cabinet picks, promising that Iran would never bend to Western deadlines over nuclear negotiations and saying that he “welcomed” proposed new sanctions.

The breadth of his new mandate was a considerable boost for the President and appeared to endorse his controversial crackdown on domestic opponents and his defiant stance against foreign pressure over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Three nominees for the 21-member Cabinet were rejected. They included two women, a triumph for hardliners who had opposed their appointment. Even reformists were sceptical of Mr Ahmadinejad’s female choices, saying that they smacked of tokenism, Times Online reports.

ranian lawmakers gave their votes of confidence to 18 of the 21 nominees proposed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- who entered a second term of office after a disputed presidential election.

Two of those who failed to get the required majority votes enabling them to start work officially were female nominees: Sousan Keshavarz for the education ministry and Fatemeh Ajorlou for welfare and social security.

Hundreds of thousands of Iranians took to the streets for more than two weeks to protest the June 12 election results, calling them fraudulent after Ahmadinejad was declared the overwhelming winner. More than 1,000 people were arrested in a government crackdown, and Iran said at least 30 people were killed in post-election violence, CNN reports.

The first woman to join a cabinet in the Islamic republic will be Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi, who will head the health ministry.

A gynaecologist and two-time former MP, Dastjerdi, 50, was approved despite never having held an executive job in government.

Dastjerdi described her selection as an "important step" for Iranian women.

"I think today women reached their long-standing dream of having a woman in the cabinet to pursue their demands," Dastjerdi told the parliamentary news service soon after the vote.

"This is an important step for women and I hold my head high."

The other two women, Sousan Keshvaraz and Fatemeh Ajorlou, fell short of the required number of votes to take over at education and at welfare and social security, APF informs.