(CNN)Whatever the outcome of Iraq's May 12 parliamentary elections, female candidates are guaranteed at least 25% of the seats, as per the country's constitution.
This year, nearly 2,600 female candidates are competing for a minimum of 83 seats reserved for women in the national parliament. Theoretically, Iraqi women could occupy positions outside the "quota seats," if they receive enough votes to win competitive seats.
However, statistics from the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) show that since the quota was introduced after the toppling of the Saddam Hussein regime in 2003, women have not won enough votes to be elected beyond this quota.
Furthermore, in the lead up to the May election, a number of female candidates have been the target of "defamation campaigns," according to the UN, pressuring them to withdraw from the race.
'People have faith in women'
Two of the Iraqi women running in this election, Sabah Abdul Rasul Al Tamimi and Manal Almotasim, spoke to CNN, saying they are optimistic that opinions toward female political candidates in Iraq are changing.
Al Tamimi served as a member of the National Parliamentary Bloc for four years, from 2010 to 2014, and is running again this time around. She believes the 25% quota, while insufficient, is still important.
"This is a sign that people have faith in women and I know their consciousness (of women) will continue to increase," she tells CNN. "In the future, men will probably be needing a quota for themselves!"
Almotasim, a former Iraqi journalist, is a candidate for th