Women around the world face barriers to participate in politics but the percentage of female participation is particularly low in the Middle East. The Daily Star from Lebanon has an interesting article that examines what women in that region have to deal with when entering political life. Here are the statistics:

The results of the recent elections in Morocco brought the debate on female political representation back into the political arena there. Only 34 women won seats in the legislature’s lower chamber, compared to 35 in the previous elections, a mere 5 percent of all representatives.

In Turkey, women won 50 out of 550 seats in the Turkish Parliament. Although this is still only 9 percent of the total, it is an encouraging sign since the number of elected women more than doubled from the last parliamentary elections. This percentage of female representation is the second largest in the region after Iraq, where there are 70 women in the 275-member Iraqi Parliament.

These statistics are obviously terrible, but I think that the article is particularly insightful in its analysis of why this is the case:

Women are also often seen as less experienced in public affairs, and as a result, voters – both male and female – are less likely to vote for them. Consequently, women either refrain from running for political office or drop out early from a lack of local support. This usually helps explain why only a small number of female candidates run for public office. For example, of the 800 candidates in the October 27 Omani elections, only 25 were women.

In addition, there are other factors that serve as obstacles for women to run for political office. These include varying and often unsatisfactory levels of democracy, freedom of expression, pluralism, respect for diversity and open dialogue.

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