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Shirin Ebadi is an Iranian lawyer and human-rights activist. She was the first female judge in Iran, and won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize.
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Shirin Ebadi was born on June 21, 1947, in Hamedan, Iran. In 1975, Ebadi was appointed president of Bench 24 of Tehran's City Court, becoming the first female judge in Iran. In the 1990s, she practiced law and began taking human rights cases. Ebadi founded the Association for Support of Children's Rights in 1995 and the Human Rights Defense Center in 2001. Two years later, she won the Nobel Peace Prize.
"I sound like a dreamer, I know. The challenge facing us today is to think like dreamers but act in a pragmatic manner. Let us remember that many of humanity's accomplishments began as a dream."
"If the present regime does not reform and evolve into one that reflects the will of the people, it is going to fail, even if it adopts a secularist posture."
"Compared to 25 years ago, I can only see progress. But in a lot of areas, freedoms are still restricted. Freedom and democracy are not handed to you on a silver platter. Neither are they achieved with American tanks."
"Anyone who fights for human rights in Iran lives in fear. But I have learnt to overcome my fear. In Iran anything could happen to anyone. My fight is to make sure that only good things happen to my people."
Shirin Ebadi was born to a family of practicing Muslims on June 21, 1947, in Hamedan, Iran. When Ebadi was 1 year old, she and her family moved to Tehran. As a child, Ebadi attended Firuzkuhi primary school, followed by Anoshiravn Dadgar and Reza Shah Kabir secondary schools.
After passing her entrance exams, Ebadi spent the next three and a half years earning her law degree at Tehran University's Faculty of Law. Following a half year's apprenticeship, she started serving as a judge in 1969, while continuing to pursue her doctorate in private law at Tehran University.
In 1975, Ebadi was appointed president of Bench 24 of Tehran's City Court, becoming the first female in the history of the Iranian justice system to achieve this distinction. Ironically, just four years later, Ebadi was forced to resign. When the conservative religious leader Ruhollah Musawi Khomeini was installed after the Islamic Revolution, women were forbidden to serve as judges. Attempting to open a private law practice instead, Ebadi was unable to get her application approved. She would not manage to obtain a lawyer's license until 1992—three years after Khomeini's death.
The same year that Ebadi became president of Bench 24, she married an electrical engineer named Javad Tavassolian. During the 1980s, she gave birth to two daughters, the younger of whom would go on to study law at her mother's alma mater.
During the time that Shirin Ebadi was waiting for her attorney's license to be approved, she taught human rights training courses at Tehran University. Once she returned to law, she focused on cases that allowed her to advocate civil rights, with a particular focus on women and children. Ebadi's most highly publicized cases included representing the mother of Arin Golshani, a girl who was tortured and killed under her father's custody. Ebadi also represented the families of serial murder victims Dariush Foruhar, Parvaneh Foruhar and Ezzat Ebrahiminejad, as well as the mother of murdered photojournalist Zahra Kazemi.
In addition to writing several books and articles in support of human rights, Ebadi founded the Association for Support of Children's Rights in 1995 and the Human Rights Defense Center in 2001. Two years later, Ebadi was awarded the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for "her efforts for democracy and human rights."
More recently, Ebadi attended the first Trust Women conference (2012) in London, where she promoted her petition to amend the gender-discrimination laws in Iran's constitution.
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When Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel died in 1896, he left his fortune to create an annual series of prizes for the individuals who confer "the greatest benefit on mankind." The most prestigious of the awards is the Nobel Peace Prize. Historians believe Alfred Nobel wanted to award people who work for peace to compensate for his own role in inventing dynamite. Since its establishment, the prize has gone to many courageous individuals who have fought for peace and human rights around the world.
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