Gendered Networks of Power: The parliamentary quota and women's substantive political representation in Iraq

Principal Investigator:
 Taif Alkhudary
Duration: April 2022 - April 2023 
Supported by: British Institute for the Study of Iraq (BISI) 

Women chant campaign slogans at Iraqia rally. Photo: Omar Chatriwala, Flickr. 


Women politicians are expected to be ‘decorative and not interfere or criticize’ the politics of the parties to which they owe their positions, said a women’s rights activists from Baghdad interviewed in 2021.

This project examines the effectiveness of Iraq’s gender quota, which reserves 25% of all seats in the Council of Representatives for women, in enabling women’s substantive political representation since its implementation in 2005. In Iraq, women politicians are typically chosen through informal mechanisms and from within the power networks of parties that have dominated politics since the 2003 invasion. As such, they are less likely to challenge the patriarchal interests of those to whom they owe their political positions and to advocate for women’s rights issues. This suggests that it is necessary to move beyond a narrow focus on the number of women in parliament and to consider the mechanisms of candidate selection, including how it might be possible to recruit women from outside the networks of established political parties.  

In light of the above, this project will analyse the impact that the non-democratic practices of political parties have had on women elected to key positions in parties and parliament, as well as how women from within existing networks of power behave in parliament in comparison to those from outside these networks.

This project is funded by a grant from the British Institute for the Study of Iraq


Research Team


Taif Alkhudary | Principal Investigator 

Taif is an Iraq-focused research officer at the LSE Middle East Centre.