The Challenges and Successes of Creating an NGO in Iran

Sharmin Meymandinejad
Zahra Rahimi
Fri August 18th 2023, 10:00 - 11:00am
Event Sponsor
Hamid and Christina Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies
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Social activists Sharmin Meymandinejad and Zahra Rahimi discuss their social work and founding of the Imam Ali Relief Society—one of the largest and most successful nonprofits to operate under the Islamic Republic—until it was dissolved by the Iranian government in 2021.

Imam Ali Relief Society was one of the largest nonpartisan non-governmental organizations in Iran. Founded in 1999, the organization's first official office was in Sharif University of Technology in 2000. Most of its members were university students and young people. The organization’s mission was primarily focused on social issues, especially those affecting children. It had 44 centers in marginalized areas all over the country to provide working children and underprivileged women with medical and educational services, including literacy, languages, art, music, and sports, among others. Until 2021, the NGO was active throughout Iran with more than 10,000 volunteers serving more than 6,800 women and children. The organization also supported some projects in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sharmin Meymandinejad is an acclaimed writer, director, playwright, scholar, and activist. He founded the Imam Ali Relief Society in 1999 and oversaw it until 2021. He earned a master’s degree in dramatic arts from the University of Tehran in 1998.

Zahra Rahimi is a social activist with more than 20 years of experience in the fields of poverty, child labor, and women as family breadwinner. She was CEO and founding board member of the Imam Ali Relief Society. She earned a B.S. in chemical engineering from Sharif University and an M.A. in social welfare planning from Allameh Tabatabai University in Iran.

Talk will be in Persian.  If you need a disability-related accommodation for this event, please contact us at iranianstudies [at] (iranianstudies[at]stanford[dot]edu).  Requests should be made by August 9, 2023.