According to Iraq’s 2005 constitution, women are granted a quarter of the seats in the nation’s 325-member Parliament.
Iraq remains a male-dominated society, but women have nevertheless made significant progress in the post-conflict society.
The parliamentary elections were held Sunday, the day before International Women’s Day. This year’s theme has been dubbed: “Equal rights, equal opportunities: Progress for all.”
I hands down would say the quota has been absolutely fantastic for women. Because I think we have to imagine what the situation would be like if not for the quota. I think we would see almost no women running. It would be just difficult for women to get an edge in, get a foot in the door.
You see all of the candidates talking about the same thing, which is basically security, stability, rule of law. So, I think that, you know, the women, while they may have been quote, unquote “used” the first time around, that’s happening less and less now as women are able to reemerge. They’re really coming forward. And if not for the quota, I just don’t think we would see women at all.
One Iraqi candidate for Parliament is against this quota but remains an inspirational figure for women in Iraq. Jenan Mubarak is the founder of Iraq’s first all-female political party.
The Institute for War and Peace Reporting writes, “She has a dream: that women’s representation in parliament should be equal to that of men.” Mubarak elaborates:
I want to tell women, ‘You can do a lot.’ I want them to know they have choices; that they can be whatever they want. ‘Your achievements are who you are.’ That’s my message to women.’
Mubarak has thousands of female supporters who back her position on increasing the quota for female seats in the Iraqi Parliament. She continues:
Only a few women have been active in decision-making during the former legislatures because they are members of political parties run by others, and they can’t express their own opinion…We need a strong woman’s voice that has the ability to convince others in parliament.
Salama al-Khafaji, one of 1,801 female candidates up for election, told EuroNews:
The vision is still a masculine one and parties still nominate men rather than women to the high positions due to the fact that these positions are always given to men who assume ministerial positions and are nominated by their parties or political bloc.
But Maysoun al-Damlouji, a prominent Sunni lawmaker, explains:
The politicians who worked mostly against women’s rights and the quota are now introducing another vision that women have to take part in the political development as well as economic and every other development that Iraq needs.
– Stephanie Savage