In a trend signifying an increase in women’s participation in Iran’s decision making processes at the highest level, this year’s elections held at the end of April, has brought more women than clerics into parliament. As many as seventeen women are going to be part of the 290 seat legislature or the Majlis as it is known. On the other hand, sixteen clerics have been elected, which is the lowest their number has ever been.
While seventeen may not seem like a large number, the fact that the highest number of women elected representatives before this was 14 as far back as 1979 after the revolution certainly puts things in perspective.

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The heartening fact though is that while  Iran’s female members of parliament have been few in number, they have managed to make their voices heard on national policies. Case in point is Parvaneh Salahshori, a 51-year-old sociologist and university professor, who has been campaigning for women’s rights to choose whether to wear the hijab or not, a highly controversial subject in the Islamic state of Iran. She spoke in detail regarding the issue to The Guardian.

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Eight of the women elected this time were on a reformist-backed list of 30 candidates standing in the Tehran constituency known as “the list of hope”. And in case you are curious about how Iran compares to India in terms of  representation of women in parliament, the percentage is something like this. India’s 543-seat legislature has 65 women in the Lower House, which is 12.% , while the Upper House has 31 women out of 243-seat legislature which means 12.8%. This might seem dismal to many, but compared to that with the current numbers, Iranian women have stepped only into the Lower or single House at 3.1%, and Upper House positions stay untouched.

But with more reformist-backed candidates and moderate politicians in the fray with President Hassan Rouhani emerging victorious, the hope is that the numbers now will go only one way. Up!

Feature Image Courtesy: deccanchronicle