Affirmative Action and Women's Political Participation in Decentralised Governance in Iran : Case Study of participation by women, and specifically Hazara Baluchs and Lakis women in Islamic Local Councils in Sistan and Baluchistan and Hamedan
One key tool in a rights-based approach to enhancing women’s participation in governance is affirmative action. Enabling women’s access to and active participation in governance institutions through women’s Facilitating Project is viewed as a means of democratising politics in Iran. This process empowers women to claim citizenship rights to equal political participation and development, and thereby ensure gender-responsive development outcomes. Analysis of Iran’s implementation of women’s Facilitating Project in its Islamic Local Councils system of decentralised governance in Hamedan and Sistan and Baluchistan, however, suggests that affirmative action secures for women political representation, but not necessarily political power to transform governance and reshape gender relations. Engendering governance instead requires a simultaneous strategy of affirmative action coupled with a strong commitment by state and civil society actors to addressing the structural inequalities that infringe upon women’s rights to political participation and development.