September 8, 2009
Extended interview with Iran’s first female vice president

Masoumeh Ebtekar served as Iran’s first female vice-president under the reformist government of Mohammad Khatami. In 1979, a young Ebtekar — nicknamed “Mary” by the Western press — became the spokesperson and face of the Iranian students who held 52 Americans hostage in the U.S. embassy.

Her fluent English was the result of several years spent in the United States as a child while her father pursued an academic career. She holds a doctorate in immunology, currently serves in Tehran City Council, and was named a 2006 UNEP Champion of the Earth as a “champion of cleaner production in the petrochemical industry.”

Iranian-American correspondent Bigan Saliani and producer Richard O’Regan interviewed Ebtekar in Tehran in May, before the disputed election.  She argues that women have made tremendous strides in the preceding decades. Her interview also touches on whether women need men’s protection; Iranian youth and reform;  and offers a surprisingly hopeful assessment of the future of Iranian-U.S. relations.

For more coverage of women in Iran, visit our Women in Islam extended coverage page.

For more, view our Voices of Iran extended coverage page and listen to our online radio show on Baha’i faith and modern Iran.




[…] Extended interview with Iran’s first female vice president […]


She has the worst case of puffiness around her eyes. She needs to check her thyroid.


A change in the balance of power between the sexes that will soon sweep across the middle east

Produced by Creative News Group LLC     ©2023 WNET.ORG     All rights reserved

Distributed by American Public Television