Who was the first woman diplomat in Iranian history?

Who was the first woman diplomat in Iranian history?
ID : N-2221 Date : 2018/07/06 - 11:55

(Persia Digest) – Marzieh Afkham is the first woman diplomat of the IR of Iran. Prior to becoming the Iranian Ambassador to Malaysia, she was the first woman spokesperson for the Iranian Foreign Ministry. But she was not the first woman ambassador in contemporary Iranian history. Based on available documents, Mehranguiz Dolatshahi was the first Iranian woman ambassador between the years 1975 to 1978 - posted to Denmark. Be that as it may, Mehranguiz Dolatshahi was a political appointee and not a career diplomat. Thus, she was still not the first woman diplomat despite being the country’s first woman ambassador.

A former Iranian diplomat, Fereydoun Majlessi, has told Persia Digest: “Nasrin Hekmati and Shirin Tahmasb-Hunter were classmates at Tehran University. They took the entrance exam for the Foreign Ministry and joined the diplomatic service together. But, in my opinion, Iran’s first woman diplomat was Nasrin Hekmati.”

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Majlessi narrates the events of the first woman diplomat in Iranian history as follows: “In that year, Nasrin Hekmati graduated in political sciences as Tehran University Valedictorian. During the graduation ceremony, she was the first student to be called to receive accreditation from the Shah of Iran (Pahlavi II) and be congratulated. Ms Hekmati answered that the congratulation did not serve any purpose for her. While the others were horrified by this answer, the Shah asked what she meant by it? Upon which Ms Hekmati answered: “My male classmates, who are not valedictorians, can join the diplomatic corps at the Foreign Ministry, while I could not even enroll for the entrance exam. What good is graduating first for me?” The Shah smiled and answered: “Well, girls marry and start a family.” This was a rather disappointing answer for Ms Hekmati.

Majlessi continues: “But a few days later, on a Friday [weekend], the phone rang in Ms Hekmati’s house. A voice at the other end said: ‘I am Abbas Aram, the Foreign Minister. I would like to speak with Ms Nasrin Hekmati please.’”

After congratulating her, Mr Aram told Nasrin: “Upon His Majesty’s orders, the ban on women joining the diplomatic service has been lifted and you can report to the Personnel Department of the Foreign Ministry tomorrow to enroll for the entrance examination! (Summer of 1964).”

Majlessi reiterates: “Thus, through the courage of a bright girl, an important step was taken in history for women to attain their social rights; a step which is far more important than giving Saudi women the right to drive 55 years later.”

And so Majlessi believes that the title “First woman diplomat of Iran” belongs to Nasrin Hekmati. Ms Hunter-Tahmasb went on to achieve many honors as one of the first women to join the diplomatic service in Iran, and this story does not diminish from her being first in Iranian politics.”

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