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Iranian Women’s NGOs Pushing Forth A Womans Agenda.

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Presentation on theme: "Iranian Women’s NGOs Pushing Forth A Womans Agenda."— Presentation transcript:

1 Iranian Women’s NGOs Pushing Forth A Womans Agenda

2 Background NGOs Before the Islamic Revolution of 1979 Emergence of Modern NGOs in the late 1980s and 1990s Growth of the NGOs during the reform period –Khatami elected on a platform of promotion of civil society –Facilitation of Registration –Government Support (Financial, devolution, cooperation) –Capacity Building Programs –Over 600 women’s ngos currently exist

3 Classification of NGOs Traditional NGOs or Community-based organizations Modern NGOs

4 Traditional NGOs –Long tradition, based in culture and religious belief –Conduct charitable work –Support to female heads of households –Support to orphans –Education, housing and medical support –Cash handouts –Low skills training for women and employment generation –Small loans for home based businesses –Some more progressive and preventive work

5 Traditional NGOs Strengths Provide a valuable service (safety net) Based in tradition and have strong community relations and support Deal with tangible issues Understand their role and their relationship with government

6 Traditional NGOs Challenges Promote a culture of dependence Not prevention or development oriented Structures are not democratic Outdated accounting systems Women are present in their ranks, but not sufficiently present at the decision making levels

7 Modern NGOs Prevention oriented and address issues of importance to women, even issues that are sensitive, like VOA, Legal change Offer theory Provide some services. Like legal services, job training, empowerment, etc Engaged largely in training, education, information sharing and other innovative programs designed to address root causes with a base in research and theory Protests and campaigns

8 Modern NGOs Strengths Addressing women’s issues Addressing sensitive issues Based on research and theory and long term vision Prevention oriented

9 Distinctions between modern and traditional NGOs are in a state of transition and development and so their positions, structures and orientation is changing. It is difficult to categorize them with certainty.

10 Women’s NGOs as Agents of Change A slow start, despite attention and support at the policy level For approximately 3 years now the strongest sector: –Time to develop into strong organizations, develop mission and vision and gain expertise –Joined by activists, journalists, etc. –Academics slowly becoming involved

11 Women’s NGOs as Agents of Change (cont’d) Resolve on the part of the most important players to address women’s issues beyond political factionalism Commitment to democratic practices Emergence of multiple networks Commitment to work together despite differing ideologies and belief systems

12 Women Activists Ideological Leanings 1. Islamists Belief in biological differences as key, belief in equity in separate spheres, promote the role of women in the family –Fundementalists –moderates

13 Women Activists Ideological Leanings (cont’d) 2. Progressive alternative religious thinkers Belief in dynamic Islamic Jurisprudence –Believers: truly believe that Islamic Doctrine through new and progressive interpretation (practice of ijtihad) can respond to the needs of a modern society –Strategists: believe in human rights, but see this as a culturally appropriate strategy –New options: seek a combination of religious doctrine and democratic and human rights standards to respond to modern day issues, especially role of women

14 Women Activists Ideological Leanings (cont’d) 3. Human Rights Activists Moderate: some tend to be religious, but see this as a personal choice, open to lobbying and cooperation with other groups and government, believe that it is a long process of education and compromise in order to achieve equal status for women based on HR Extreme: don’t believe in compromise and cooperation, and see relations with government as compromise to their independence

15 Women’s Thinking Collaborative Partnerships across ideologies for change and improvement of women’s status Focus on VAW, change of laws that discriminate against women, with each member having a different role Campaigns, education, outreach Working on democracy within the women’s movement and collaborative efforts of women’s NGOS

16 Special Note on Provincial NGOs and Youth NGOs A significant force for women, but face their own issues and have not received sufficient support, lack relations with tehran based organizations, and opportunities for growth

17 Challenges faced by Women’s NGOs New sector, lack of experience and organizational development Lack of funding Lack of strong relations with government Lack of understanding of their own roles Lack of understanding of relations to government Conflict A security oriented view to the sector Women’s issues remain sensitive

18 The Outlook is Positive The Government has expressed interest in continuing cooperation with NGOs and on womans empowerment This sector has a strong and remarkable growth They are consistently rethinking their position and using experiences of other groups They are committed to making change and will do the outreach necessary to make it happen, with other groups, with government, with the public

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