“Under heavy U.S. pressure to promote gender equality,” Iraq has adopted rules requiring that women make up at least a quarter of provincial councils. However, rampant violence and lingering gender inequality has led to a shortage of women willing to run for public office in the Jan. 31 elections:
In the past elections, names did not appear on the ballot—only numbers and symbols identified with political parties. …. In the new vote, the names of candidates must be presented to voters.
The change to a so-called open list has scared some qualified Iraqis from running, particularly women. Activists are worried there won’t be enough women to meet the 25 percent threshold, or that the parties will just find women to act as figureheads to fill the quota.