Iran's Rohani Adds Three Women to Cabinet After Social Media Criticism

After being heavily criticized on social media for campaigning on women's rights but not furthering them when in power, President Hassan Rohani changes his proposed cabinet

Iran's President Hasan Rohani, center, leaves the parliament at the end of his swearing-in ceremony for the second term in office, in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017.
Ebrahim Noroozi/AP

Iranian President Hassan Rohani brought three women into the government on Wednesday, one day after being criticized on social media for submitting an all-male list of cabinet members to parliament for approval.

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

Rohani had mentioned the importance of women's rights in campaign speeches before the presidential election in May when he was re-elected.

The appointments are likely to tamp down some of the criticism that Rohani faced from supporters on Tuesday when he failed to announce any female ministers in his cabinet. One widely-circulated post on social media showed Rohani with his new all-male cabinet cast in a photo in front of a government building – with a huge moustache photo-shopped onto the building.

"I won't forget how people rallied votes for Rohani," 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?"

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