Women We Love: Shirin Ebadi

September 13, 2010 | 12:05 PM

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Who She Is: Shirin Edabi is the first ever Iranian, and the first Muslim woman to ever have received the Nobel Peace Prize. On October 10th, 2003, the prize was awarded to Ebadi "for her efforts for democracy and human rights. She has focused especially on the struggle for the rights of women and children.” Her significant and pioneering efforts on behalf of democracy and human rights, particularly those of women, children, and refugees were instrumental in the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s decision.

Why We Love Her: Shirin Ebadi is a human rights activist and a campaigner for strengthening the legal rights and status of women and children in Iran. She was born in 1947 in Hamadan, Iran and received a law degree from the University of Tehran and, in 1975, became the first female judge in Iran. However, four years later in 1979, she was forced to resign her position due to conservative clerics who took control of the country following the Iranian Revolution and introduced severe restrictions on the role of women in the nation. Since that time, Ebadi has begun a long battle against Iran’s clerics for women’s equality and rights for children, workers, artists, and others. As an attorney, she specializes in the cases of dissidents, women and children. She has been involved in a number of controversial political cases and has been imprisoned several times.

In 1996, Human Rights Watch honored Ms. Ebadi as a leading human rights defender for her contribution to the cause of human rights in Iran. She has published many books that have been translated into English such as The Rights of the Child. A Study of Legal Aspects of Children's Rights in Iran (1994, published with support from UNICEF), History and Documentation of Human Rights in Iran (2000) and Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope (2006). Time Magazine named Ebadi one of 2004's top 100 most influential people.

She is the president and Co-Founder of the Center for the Defense of Human Rights, a leading human rights organization in Iran. Based in Tehran, the organization has actively defended the rights of women, political prisoners, and minorities in Iran. Due to the increase in persecution aimed at critics of the current Iranian regime, Ebadi has lived in exile in the United Kingdom since June 2009.


“Human rights is a universal standard. It is a component of every religion and every civilization.”


The Nobel Peace Prize 2003


Center for the Defense of Human Rights



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