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.