The state and NGOs: the case of women's rights NGOs in Iran




Millan, Melissa

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This paper stands against the general trend by arguing that overt oversimplification of autocratic regimes and actions of their non-governmental organization (NGO) systems are incredibly misleading, especially in terms of women's rights non-governmental organizations (WR-NGOs). Based on the case study of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), this study predicts the overt simplification of regime and its relation to civil society misguides the perceptions of NGO leverage. It is thus predicted that this divergent approach to the study of autocratic states and NGOs will provide insight to the actual role of civil society and global civil society in the legitimization of NGOs. These theories are applied to the study of women's rights non-governmental organizations. The variables studied include leverage, state regime, state identity, domestic civil society, and global civil society. Each of these facets are observed as they interact in politics, policy, and media. After a detailed address of the historic political and social sphere for women in the Islamic Republic of Iran, this study concludes that the health and future of WR-NGOs has been misguidedly pessimistic. The current research suggest an upward trend for domestic civil society. Further, these groups have access to and utilize both domestic and international avenues for legitimacy. Lastly, this study calls for an expansion on the structured and focus case study of more disaggregated versions of autocracies and democracies in relation to the developing role of non-governmental organizations seeking women's rights. In the case of Iran, this study suggests the use of domestic structures to promote women's rights.


This item is available only to currently enrolled UTSA students, faculty or staff. To download, navigate to Log In in the top right-hand corner of this screen, then select Log in with my UTSA ID.


Civil Society, Islamic Republic of Iran, Non-Governmental Organizations, Women's Rights



Political Science and Geography