Analysis; Women 'Invading' Iran Politics
Byline: HIEDEH FARMANI Agence France-Presse
QAZVIN, Iran -- Banned from becoming president and with just a dozen MPs, women have started making inroads in the male-dominated world of Iranian politics by boosting their numbers on local councils.
Former high school teacher Fatemeh Ashdari, 42, was one of dozens of women who made a strong showing in December's municipal elections by winning a seat on the city council in the city of Qazvin northwest of Tehran.
''Somebody has to take the first steps to pave the way for the next generation,'' the energetic, chardor-clad Ashdari, a conservative, told AFP.
''Women cannot just have the decorative jobs of an advisor or a consultant. Men have to allow us to make our mistakes and learn,'' she said.
Ashdari is one of four women who will sit in the new nine-member council in Qazvin after the December 15 elections, where women represented just one-sixth of the 180 candidates in the city.
While Iranian women have yet to make a major breakthrough on a national stage, their success in the municipal polls was startling -- out of 264 seats available on councils in provincial capitals, 44 went to women.
And in a number of cities and towns, it was female candidates who polled the most votes, most notably in the cities of Shiraz and Hamedan where two women who are still in their 20s pocketed the highest number of votes.
Ashdari said she won her second term on Qazvin city council with ''the least publicity as people were happy with my work in the council and got me in again simply by the word of mouth.''
She attributed her success to ''being there for people and following up persistently on their demands'' after resolving property disputes, expanding green spaces and promoting cultural centers for women.''
''I miss out on a lot of family life but it is a very rewarding job,'' said Ashdari, who is juggling motherhood and chairing two charities and council membership.
Qazvin resident and civil servant Mohammad Taheri, 31, voted for Ashdari as he said he was ''fed up with male candidates with big titles who do not deliver on their promises.''
''Women did not let us down in the two previous councils'', he said. ''And they run households so efficiently, the city is just like a big house. …