Shahindokht Molaverdi, vice president for Women and Family Affairs, is perhaps the youngest member of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s administration at the age of 49. During the 20 years that she has been active in the field of women’s rights, she has gained a reputation as a smart activist who works step by step to achieve more rights for women. She neither presents a secular image of herself nor is she willing to back down when hard-liners criticize her.
Molaverdi's critics — mostly former officials in charge of women’s affairs during the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — used conservative media outlets to criticize her before she attended the Commission on the Status of Women (Beijing+20), held at UN headquarters in New York on March 9-20. They warned that Molaverdi’s “views on women and family are not compatible with the Islamic view.” For these conservatives, Molaverdi is seen as a figure who is supported by both religious and secular organizations and activists in her new position. Yet, some of these organizations and activists worry that her new position in the administration might result in her becoming negligent of important issues. Molaverdi herself considers her new position as an “opportunity” for her to directly engage ministers and other officials on women's rights.