SQUADS

What it looked like when Iran’s all-male delegation faced an all-female EU team in Oslo

For the past two days, world leaders have gathered in Norway for the annual Oslo Forum, the world’s most important retreat for conflict mediation.

Attended by heads of states and of international organizations, the June 14 and 15 event was a time to work towards resolving current global conflict in a nimbler, less official way than usual: Oslo Forum talks are held under Chatham House Rule, which means that information obtained can be used outside the talk, but talk participants can’t be identified.

To make the talks more effective, delegates often meet ahead of the forum—as did the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs Federica Mogherini with Iranian minister of foreign affairs Javad Zarif, flanked by their respective teams.

According to Mogherini’s Twitter account, the two spoke on June 14 about the Iran deal and Syria. And while whatever else they discussed is likely to remain secret (hint: it might have had to do with European business in Iran), an image of the meeting was also tweeted from her account. And what an image it is:

The image is striking, with Zarif and his all-male delegation facing off against Mogherini and her team of four women. While women still don’t make up even half of the people holding public office in Europe, it’s worth noting that there are now enough high-ranking women in EU politics for this to happen.

Iran, on the other hand, is ranked as the fifth worst country in the world in which to be a woman, and inclusion of women in political life is rare. Only two of Iran’s 32 members of cabinet members are women, and 17 of the nation’s 290-seat parliament.

While all-male meetings over global affairs continue to be painfully common, viewed from this angle, an all-man delegation does seem a bit old-fashioned.

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