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Iran's female MPs show mixed record

Iran's female members of parliament have been few in number but have had a large impact on national policies.
An Iranian woman registers her candidacy for the upcoming parliamentary elections at the interior ministry in Tehran on December 24, 2011. Iranians began to register their candidacy for the upcoming elections set for March 2, 2012 for a four-year tenure in parliament. AFP PHOTO/ATTA KENARE (Photo credit should read ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)

Nine out of 290 members of the Iranian parliament are women. This 3% membership puts Iran near the bottom of the international measures of female parliamentary representation. Women have never been more than 5% of the parliament, but they have always been among the key political players on both sides of the political divide in the Islamic Republic.

Eight of the nine women in parliament belong to the “Principlist” (conservative) side of the house. Three (Fatemeh Alia, Mahnaz Bahmani and Zohre Tabibzadeh) sit on the Central Council of the Principlist Caucus, which is the more hard-line of the two main conservative factions in the parliament. Another member, Fatemeh Rahbar, is on the leadership body of the Islamic Coalition Party, the oldest Islamist party in the country. Parliament members Laleh Eftekhari and Nayereh Akhavan are two other political heavyweights in their own right. This makes the all-female Women and Family Caucus an unlikely power center in the country.

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