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Iran Awakening: A Story of Revolution and Hope

Born in Hamadan, Iran, Shirin Ebadi’s life began as any other. She followed in the footsteps of her father, a professor of commercial law, and obtained law degrees from the University of Tehran. Shortly after her graduation in 1969, she became a judge. In 1975, she became the first woman in Iran to preside over a legislative court. In 1979, with the Islamic Revolution, however, everything changed. At the behest of the conservative clerics who controlled the regime, Ebadi and other female judges were stripped of their authority and demoted to secretarial positions within the judicial branch. When their protests were ignored, Ebadi opted for early retirement.

Ebadi was not able to return to her law practice until 1993, when she finally received the necessary permission to return to court. In the meantime, she began writing articles and books campaigning for a stronger legal status for women and children, becoming a champion of their rights in the face of the harsh Islamic regime. She has taken on numerous child abuse and anti-censorship cases, as well as established two non-governmental organizations: the Society for Protecting the Rights of the Child (SPRC) and the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC).

In 2003, Ebadi’s efforts were recognized internationally as she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, becoming the first Iranian, first Shia, and first Muslim woman to win the prize. The Nobel committee praised Ebadi’s courage, noting that she “has never heeded the threat to her own safety.” Her efforts on behalf of children and women have earned her international recognition, and her devotion to human rights has earned her praise. Ebadi is the author of, among other books, Democracy, Human Rights, and Islam in Modern Iran: Psychological, Social, and Cultural Perspectives (2003), as well as her memoir, Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope (2006).