Senator Ben Allen Recognizes Maryam Zar as Woman of the Year

Attorney and human rights advocate, honored for advocacy work and local leadership

Senator Ben Allen (D – Santa Monica) recognized Maryam S. Zar as the Senate District 24 Woman of the Year in a floor ceremony in the California State Senate on Monday. 

Ms. Zar is an attorney and a strong advocate for human rights and the women’s movement in Iran. She is currently the president of the Pacific Palisades Community Council, the chair of the Westside Regional Alliance of Councils Land Use and Planning Committee, the secretary of the Pacific Palisades Park Advisory Board, and the chair of the board of the Palisades-Malibu YMCA.

Senator Allen represents some of the most populous Persian communities in California and praised Ms. Zar’s leadership in advocating for the rights of Persian-American women and supporting local solutions for homelessness. Ms. Zar moved to the United States in 1979 and returned to Iran in 1992 as a news correspondent, where she faced challenges due to gender discrimination in the workplace. In 2010, she established Womenfound to promote awareness of women’s issues around the world.

“This past year, the courageous women of Iran have taken to the streets fighting for their rights. Here in the United States, Persian-American women have led the fight to make sure their struggle is not ignored,” said Senator Allen, who represents some of the most populous Persian communities in California. “Maryam has been a leader in this effort. Her leadership builds upon years of community service in the Palisades and broader LA region. She has been putting in the hard work of finding local solutions for homelessness, leading the Community Council with strength and energy. I’m proud to name her SD 24 Woman of the Year for 2023!”

Ms. Zar expressed her gratitude for the recognition and spoke about the significance of the award in the current climate of the Woman Life Freedom movement for civil rights inspired by women in Iran. 

“I’m thrilled to be receiving this accolade from Senator Ben Allen, who is a pleasure to work with and represents the kind of public servant all districts should be lucky enough to have. This year, with the Woman Life Freedom movement for civil rights inspired by women in Iran underway, the WOTY award is particularly meaningful to me and I’m grateful and humbled to have been chosen,” Zar said.

Each year, California legislators choose a woman in their district to honor in collaboration with the Legislative Women’s Caucus, and Senator Allen’s past honorees include Debbie Allen, Corrie Mattie, Lisa Zola Greer, Catherine Baxter, Rashida Leah Jones, Stacey Armato, Amy Ziering, and Jackie Caster.

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