An Iranian Woman who Reclaims her Life

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Shirin Ebadi is an Iranian lawyer, a former judge, a human rights activist, the founder of Defenders of Human Rights Center in Iran and a woman who has reclaimed her life.


On October 10, 2003, Ebadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her significant and pioneering efforts for democracy and human rights, especially women’s, children’s and refugee rights. She was the first Iranian to ever receive the prize.


Ebadi has been in exile in the UK since June 2009 due to the increase in persecution of Iranian citizens who are critical of the current regime. In 2004, Eadi was listed in Forbes magazine as one of the “100 most powerful women in the world”. She is also included in a published list of the “100 most influential women of all time.”


Ebadi explained her political and religious views on Islam in her book, Iran Awakening:


“In the last 23 years, from the day I was stripped of my judgeship to the years of doing battle in the revolutionary courts of Tehran, I had repeated one refrain: an interpretation of Islam that is in harmony with equality and democracy is an authentic expression of faith. It is not religion that binds women, but the selective dictates of those who wish them cloistered. That belief, along with the conviction that change in Iran must come peacefully and from within, has underpinned my work.”


At the same time, Ebadi expresses a nationalist love of Iran and a critical view of the Western world. She opposed the pro-Western Shah, initially supported the Islamic Revolution, and remembers the CIA’s 1953 overthrow of prime minister Mohammad Mosaddeq with rage.


In 2003, Shirin Ebadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts for democracy and human rights, especially for the rights of women and children. The selection committee praised her as a “courageous person” who “has never heeded the threat to her own safety”.


Since being awarded the Nobel Prize, Ebadi has lectured, taught and received awards in different countries, issued statements and defended people accused of political crimes in Iran.
She has traveled to, and spoken to audiences in India, the United States and other countries. Along with five other Nobel laureates, Ebadi created the Nobel Women’s Initiative to promote peace, justice and equality for women.