The number of female candidates competing in Iraq's October parliamentary election will be less than half that of the last poll three years ago, according to an elections commission source.
In the 2018 legislative election, 2,014 women competed among a total of 6,982 candidates, but this year the number of women standing will be just 963 out of a total field of 5,323.
This takes the proportion of female candidates down to 18 percent from 28.8 percent, even as Iraq's Constitution reserves a quarter of parliament's 329 seats for women.
The polls, planned for October 10, will be the first under a new electoral law, which has reduced the sway of party lists and thus weakened major parties' influence, giving more scope for independents to stand.
The number of candidates on each party's list has thus been substantially reduced, automatically reducing the number of female candidates.
Changes in the electoral law came last year, after popular protests in late 2019 and early 2020 demanding an overhaul of a political system widely seen as corrupt and overly favourable to established parties.
Some would-be female parliamentarians have complained of obstacles to their candidacy.
Inas Naji al-Maksoussi, an independent standing in Wasit province in eastern Iraq, said she and other women seeking to enter politics have been subjected to "pressures".
"Some people in my competitors' entourages have prevented me from campaigning in certain areas of my constituency," she told AFP.