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Shirin Ebadi’s Campaign For Democracy

Shirin Ebadi’s Campaign For Democracy

Picture of Culture Trip
Updated: 9 February 2017
In 2003 Shirin Ebadi became the first Muslim woman and the first Iranian to win the Nobel Peace Prize. She was awarded for her courageous campaign to promote democracy and human rights in Iran, which brought her into direct opposition with the Iranian regime.
Shirin Ebad © Ana Elisa Fuentes

Shirin Ebad © Ana Elisa Fuentes

Since winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 Shirin Ebadi has continued to campaign for justice and equality within Iran, even though she has faced censure for her outspoken opinions. Whilst she has yet to be arrested she has been put under pressure through a series of intimidation campaigns, which included at one point having her Nobel medal confiscated by the authorities and having her bank account frozen. Ebadi has nonetheless continued to promote human rights in Iran and to publicise the oppressive policies of the Iranian regime, not least through the publication of her memoir, Iran Awakening, and, her most recent publication, The Golden Cage.

In Iran Awakening she relates how her initial support for the 1978 Islamic Revolution quickly dissipated as the clerics who came to power stripped women of their rights and treated them as second class citizens. The memoir records Ebadi’s long battle against the constraints the fundamentalist regime placed upon women and her attempts to use the courts to enforce a less discriminatory interpretation of Sharia law. Her struggle would lead to the Nobel Prize, but would also place her in an invidious position, especially following the disputed Iranian elections of 2009.

The spectre of Iranian oppression also looms large in The Golden Cage, which depicts the way in which the Iranian Revolution, and the upheaval of Iran’s society which came in its wake, affected the lives of ordinary Iranians. It focuses on three brothers whose lives are torn apart by the competing ideologies which sprouted from the Islamic Revolution, whilst their sister, another victim of the Revolution’s oppression, watches. The book both opens and closes with this quote ‘If you can’t eliminate injustice, at least tell everyone about it’.

By recording the everyday consequences of oppression and promoting the importance of fundamental human rights, Ebadi has dedicated her life to the cause of eliminating injustice despite the odds stacked against her.