Secular and Islamic Feminist Work to Increase Parliamentary Representation in Iran: Towards an Alliance?
Women have never represented more than 5.9 per cent of sitting parliamentarians in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This compares poorly with regional and global averages. More importantly, the deficit in women’s substantive representation has led to a lack of understanding of gender-specific needs among decision-makers in Iran. This chapter explores how Islamic and secular-oriented feminists—those working ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ the system respectively—have confronted these issues by working to increase women’s parliamentary representation in Iran. The author argues that as stand-alone ideologies, both Islamic and secular feminisms are limited, suggesting that prospects for improving women’s political participation in Iran are likely to improve if ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’ agents of change can work towards building meaningful relationships around mutually beneficial goals. The chapter concludes with an analysis of the Campaign to Change the Male Face of Parliament in Iran, offering some suggestions for potential future alliances between Islamic and secular-oriented women.