Parliamentary gender quotas have become increasingly prevalent since the 1990s, yet in-depth research illuminating their effects on women’s political agency remains scarce. Iraq’s political evolution offers a unique perspective on feminist, democratization, and gender quota scholarship as related to Middle Eastern women in politics since the US and allied invasion of Iraq in 2003. Throughout Iraq’s modern history, Iraqi women’s ability to pursue legitimate political agency has fluctuated with changes in the country’s political climate. The 2003 invasion set in motion sweeping reforms to the judicial, legislative, and executive governing powers. Women’s potential role in the emerging polity was enhanced by enactment of an electoral gender quota stipulating no less than twenty-five percent of seats in the Iraq parliament to be filled by women. This article presents research that sought to elucidate the impact of that quota on women’s political mobilization since 2003. Data collected included televised interviews, reports, and media articles that were qualitatively analyzed using a critical literary theory approach. Analysis was aided by NVivo qualitative analysis software. The findings indicate that although the gender quota has nominally increased descriptive representation, it has proven insufficient to support women’s substantive and symbolic representation. Issues of women’s socioeconomic position, lack of cooperation among female members of parliament, and ongoing security threats must be addressed for women to achieve full political legitimacy.

You do not currently have access to this content.