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Iraqi law dictates that a quarter of seats in the country’s parliament be reserved for women. Despite this guarantee of female representation in the political process, many of Iraq’s political parties are in the aftermath of the Oct. 10 parliamentary elections finding it difficult to grasp the idea that women could head government ministries—let alone becoming prime minister.
Prior to 1980, women could not participate in elections. After the US-led invasion in 2003, when a new phase of governance began in Iraq, a quota system was established which allocated 25% of parliamentary seats to women.
The results of the recent polls mark an important new stage in women’s political participation. Women will fill an unexpected 95 seats in the new parliament, exceeding by 12 the 83 seats allotted to women under the quota system. This was a surprise for many political parties and blocs. The fact that women outperformed their quota is a testament to their progress within the political process. Equally significant is the fact that of the 3,249 candidates which ran in the elections, 951—just over 29%—were women. Moreover, of the 95 successful women candidates, the majority secured their seats without the backing of the quota system...
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