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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 July, 2003, 16:30 GMT 17:30 UK
Profile: Masumeh Ebtekar
Iranian Vice-President Masumeh Ebtekar
Mrs Ebtekar's appointment was seen as a breakthrough for women

Masumeh Ebtekar is Iran's first woman vice-president since the Islamic Revolution.

Appointed in 1997 by President Khatami when he first came to power, she has continued in the post into his second term of office.

Born in 1960 in Tehran, Mrs Ebtekar went to school in the United States.

She completed her studies in Iran, gaining a doctorate in immunology. She is a university professor.

Dubbed "Mary" by the US press, she was spokeswoman for the students who took 52 diplomats hostage in the American Embassy siege of 1979.

It was Mr Khatami who made her editor of the English-language newspaper Kayhan International in 1981.

He was head of the Kayhan publishing house before he joined the government as culture minister in 1982.

Mrs Ebtekar's appointment in 1997 as vice-president was widely seen as heralding a political breakthrough for Iranian women.

She told the Hamshahri newspaper at the time that if women were promoted on merit, many of Iran's problems would be solved.

Environmental role

And in December 2002, the Entekhab daily named her as a founder member of the "Women's Party of Iran", along with other prominent women said to include the wife of the president's brother.

The party was said to be a branch of the Islamic Iran Participation Front.

Mrs Ebtekar has led efforts to tackle air-pollution problems in Tehran and protect marine life in the Gulf.

Another of her priorities is to deal with environmental damage caused by the 1991 Gulf War.

She retains links with the media and since 1993 has been managing editor of Farzaneh (Sage), a bilingual quarterly devoted to the advancement of women's studies.

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