Baghdad's First Female Mayor Takes Office

Baghdad's First Female Mayor Takes OfficeBaghdad's First Female Mayor Takes Office

A woman has been named as mayor of Baghdad for the first time, a government spokesman said Saturday.

Zekra Alwach, a civil engineer and director general of the ministry of higher education, becomes the first female to be given such a post in the whole country. She begins work on Sunday, according to a municipal source. As mayor - the most important administrative position in the capital - Alwach will deal directly with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and holds the prerogatives of a cabinet minister, AFP reported.

"Abadi sacked the (former) mayor Naim Aboub and named Dr. Zekra Alwach to replace him," government spokesman Rafed Juburi said. Aboub's removal was not designed as a punishment, although he was regularly accused on social media and by Baghdad residents as incompetent, the spokesman added.

He made headlines in March 2014 when he described Baghdad as "more beautiful than New York and Dubai."

Alwach's appointment is a breakthrough for gender equality in Iraq, where rights groups say discrimination and violence against women is widespread.