The Growing Representation of Women in Parliament: Comparing Iran with Neighboring Countries and North Africa (July 2016)


At the beginning of the 21st Century, the percentage of women in the Iranian Majles was in line with figures from parliaments in neighboring countries and North Africa (i.e., Muslim-majority countries with comparable cultures). As the infographic below shows though, Iran quickly fell behind the pace of change in the region, and women’s representation in the Majles is now well below the regional average.

This infographic was created from data gathered by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). The shades of blue reflect the levels of women’s representation in a parliament for the given years, and below the names of the countries are the numerical percentages of women’s representation (the proportion of women representatives relative to the total number of seats in the lower house). The infographic tracks the process of change from 2000 to 2016, which covers five sessions of the Iranian Majles (the Sixth Majles to the Tenth).

The frames below display the levels of women’s representation in legislatures among Iran’s neighbors, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey, Iraq, and Azerbaijan, along with other countries in the Middle East and North Africa. In the year 2000, the percentage of women in the Iranian Majles was only a little below the average for countries in the region. But since then, the countries above have pursued various measures, including the introduction of quotas for female parliamentarians, to promote women’s participation in the legislative process. Despite various efforts in Iran, such as the campaign to “Change the Masculine Face of Majles”, the level of women’s representation in the Majles remains significantly below the regional average.

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