Despite being forbidden by Iran’s famously strict religious customs to shake hands or even touch their diplomatic counterparts, three women played a central role in the historic nuclear deal reached between the United States and Iran. Former Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini, was the European Union’s chief diplomat. Her deputy, Helga Schmid, had years of experience in Iran negotiations and led negotiations of the nuclear deal, according to senior Western diplomats. Wendy Sherman, the United States’ first female undersecretary of political affairs, has taken the lead on the United States’ nuclear talks with Iran since 2011. “Even inside the European Union, it’s not that often it happens there are more women sitting at the table than men,” Mogherini told the BBC. “So it was somewhat new, but it’s my personal feeling that it was helpful.” Mogherini has faced doubts from home about a woman’s ability to be taken seriously in negotiations, but says that in these negotiations it was women who kept talks on track. “Having many women at the table in key positions,” she said, “helped us be concrete and pragmatic the whole way.”
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