[Article] le 07 Mai 2023 par

Gender Quotas in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq: Obstacles, Resistances and Possibilities

Since 2009, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) has legislated gender quotas that guarantee 30% of the seats
in parliament for women. Thus, in the Kurdistan parliamentary elections of 2018, from the 111 seats available,
women were able to secure 33 seats. For the first time in its history, a woman became the president of the Kurdistan
parliament and three other women became part of the Cabinet. However, gender quotas remain highly controversial,
with several arguments being put for and against their implementation.
In this article, we focus on the consequences of the implementation of quotas for women in the KRI, in the
broader context of federal Iraq. We ask what the benefits and/or the limitations of quotas for women in the region,
are considered to be. Further we question if the implementation and the increase in the number of gender
quotas served its aim of increasing women’s representation in decision-making positions, and of changing society’s
perceptions on women’s capability in the political domain.
We discuss three main factors that emerged from the data as enabling and/or limiting women’s political participation:
“patriarchal” cultural norms; (lack) of meritocracy and affiliations with political parties; and legislation as an
enabler or as a hindrance. We conclude by arguing that in the KRI, though gender quotas can be seen as an important
tool to increase women’s presence in decision-making positions, they have not had the intended result of transforming
gender power relations at the political level.
KEYWORDS : Kurdistan Region of Iraq, gender quotas, patriarchy, political parties, parliamentary elections