Nobel Laureate Dr. Shirin Ebadi at MIT

Women's Rights in Iran and the Islamic World
Speaker: Dr. Shirin Ebadi, 2003 Nobel Peace Prize Winner


Wednesday, April 4, 2012 at 4-5 PM
Venue: MIT- Wong Auditorium (E51-115)
Part of Institute Diversity Summit


Shirin Ebadi is a lawyer, human rights activist, and the recipient of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her work defending the rights of women and children in Iran, and advocating an interpretation of Islam which is compatible with democracy and human rights. She is the first Iranian and Muslim woman to receive the prize. Ebadi received a law degree from the University of Tehran in 1965, and became one of the first female judges in Iran.


In 1975, she was the first Iranian woman to preside over a legislative court. Following Iran's Islamic Revolution in 1979, Ebadi was demoted to the position of a clerk in the court she had presided over because the revolution deemed women unfit to serve as judges. Unable to accept the discrimination against her, she resigned, and although her application was repeatedly rejected, finally obtained a license to open a law firm. For the next two decades, Ebadi devoted her life to the promotion of women's rights, the defense of children, and political activists. Her organization, the Association for Human Rights Advocates, provides pro bono legal service to political prisoners in Iran. Shirin Ebadi has spoken out strongly against discrimination and injustice in her country, at times despite great risk to her own safety.


In 2000, she spent a month in solitary confinement as a result of defending the family of a student killed by the police in protests in Tehran. Shirin Ebadi's principal arena is the struggle for basic human rights and the fundamental value that political power in a community must be built on democratic elections. She favors dialogue as the best path to changing attitudes and resolving conflict, and as a conscious Muslim believes there is no conflict between Islam and fundamental human rights.


Dr. Ebadi is the founder of three NGOs in Iran, The Association for the Defense of the Rights of the Child, The Association for Human Rights Advocates, and the Organization against Mines in Iran. She is the author of 14 books, including available in English a memoir Iran Awakening; Refugee Law in Iran; and, The Golden Cage.

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