Friday’s Fabulous Female: Shirin Ebadi
I plan to write a series, ‘Friday’s Fabulous Female’, to introduce you to some great, passionate and inspirational women who has made and continue to make a difference in the world. Some of the posts will be re-posts from the old blog, but these women are all so fabulous they deserve all the attention they can get.
So, this week I’d like to talk about Shirin Ebadi. Shirin Ebadi was the first female judge in Iran, and the first Iranian and the first female Muslim to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to fight for human rights in Iran, especially for the rights of women, children and refugees.
Born in Hamadam, Iran, in 1947, she moved with her family to the capital, Tehran, in 1948 at the age of one. She studied law at university, and sat her exams to become a judge in 1969. In 1975 she became the first female judge in a legislative court in Iran. However, come 1979 and the Iranian revolution, she and all other female judges were banned from presiding as judges, and demoted to clerks. Unwilling to accept the demotion, she eventually filed for early retirement which was granted.
Despite having studied law already, the system made it hard for her to become a lawyer, although she finally succeeded in attaining the permission to practice law in 1993. As a lawyer she is known for taking up cases that no one else will, especially cases of child abuse.
In her memoir ‘Iran Awakening: One Woman’s Journey to Reclaim Her Life and Country‘ she explains her position on women’s rights and the role of Islam: “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.” Although I haven’t read the book yet, my friend Susanne has and it is on my list of books to read and I look forward to it.
She’s also made headlines by stating that the West should stay out of Iran, and that it is the Iranian people themselves who have to fight for their human rights. Shirin Ebadi was very critical of the pro-Western Shah, and originally supported the Iranian revolution (as did many other feminists and intellectuals in Iran).
In 2003 Shirin Ebadi won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work to protect the human rights of women, children and refugees in Iran. It was a choice that was criticized and deemed to be “calculated” by some, saying that she didn’t really deserve the prize and didn’t live up to the original goals set up by Alfred Nobel.
Since she received the Nobel Prize, she has travelled across the world to deliver speeches, but since June 2009 she’s had to seek refuge in London, England, due to Iran increasing persecution of those who speak up against the regime. The authorities in Iran allegedly confiscated her Nobel Peace Prize, along with her Légion d’honneur and froze her bank accounts.
Did you know who Shirin Ebadi is? What do you think of her? Do you have any other suggestions for women to feature in Friday’s Fabulous Female?
- Posted in: Dreams ♦ Equality ♦ Friday's Fabulous Female ♦ History ♦ Human Rights
- Tagged: Alfred Nobel, feminism, Friday's Fabulous Female, Iran, Iran Awakening, Iranian Revolution, Islam, Islamic interpretation, London, Muslim women, Nobel Peace Prize, Shirin Ebadi, strong women, Tehran, Western world, women's rights