Shirin Ebadi

Dr Shirin Ebadi was born on June 22nd, 1947 in Hamadan-Iran. Her father, Professor Mohammad Ali Ebadi was a lecturer in Commercial Law. His book “Commercial Law” was later edited and updated by her daughter, Shirin.

When Shirin was only a year old, her family moved to Tehran where she receieved her education. In 1965, she started her law degree, completing it 3 years later. In 1970, after a period of internship, she became one the first female judges in Iran. She soon progressed through the ranks and was appointed Chief Magistrate of 26th Divisional Court in Tehran in 1975 – again making her the youngest and first female for the post.

Shirin married in 1975 and has two daughters, Negar and Nargess.

In 1979, immediately after the Islamic revolution in Iran, all female judges were dismissed as the then revolutionaries believed that women were forbidden from passing judgment. She was demoted to the post of a magistrate’s clerk in the very same court over which she once presided. Soon after, she opted for early retirement.

In 1992, she set up a private practice handling contentious cases. She was the defense lawyer for many controversial political and human rights cases in Iran including, Zahra Kazemi (a journalist killed in Evin prison), Parvaneh and Dariush Foroohar (well-known political activists, killed by security forces), Ezat Ebrahim Nejad (killed in the dormitory of Tehran University, 1999), and Zahra Bani Yaghoob (a young doctor, killed in detention). She also took on  the case of the seven leaders of the Baha’i faith in Iran. All these activities led to her incarceration on charges of spreading and publishing lies against the Islamic Republic in 1999. She spent 25 days in solitary confinement. The first court convicted her to one-and-a-half year imprisonment and barred her from practicing law for 5 years. In the appeal process and due to international pressure, her sentence was reduced to a fine.

Dr. Ebadi won the Nobel Prize in 2003. She used some of the prize money to set up an office for the Center for Defenders of Human Rights and support the families of political prisoners. This center became a prominent human rights organization. As a result it was honored by the National Human Rights of France in 2003. In 2008 the center was closed down by the security forces. They confiscated the building.

Dr. Ebadi left Iran shortly before the June 2009 presidential election to participate in a conference in Spain. She did not return to Iran owing to the severe restrictions imposed on human rights activists, and upon receiving news of her colleagues’ arrests and many killings. She continued her activities in de facto exile. The Iranian government, disapproving of her actions, filed a case against her in the revolutionary court. The government confiscated her properties, including the office of the CDHR, on the pretext of unpaid taxes. Moreover, to blackmail and silence Dr. Ebadi, her sister and her husband were arrested by the security forces.


  • Founded the Society for Protecting the Rights of the Child in 1995 and chaired it until the year 2000
  • Founded and chaired the Human Rights Defenders Centre in 2001
  • Proposing a law to the Iranian parliament on preventing violence against children, (summer 2002)
  • Founded and chaired the Mine Cleaning Collaboration Association in 2003
  • Collaboration with 6 other women’s peace prize laureates to fund the Nobel Women’s Initiative in 2006. Now she is the member of the board of the latter
  • Conducted several research projects with the Tehran office of UNICEF
  • Teaching courses free of charge on the issues of children’s rights and the Convention of the Rights of the Child for different groups
  • -Teaching courses free of charge on educating and promoting human rights and women’s rights
  • Participation in deferent legal and human rights conferences and seminars
  • Lecturing at various Universities and Institutes around the world


  •  Lecturing Trade Law at Tehran Islamic Azad University between 1989- 1993
  • Lecturing Law and Urban Planning Regulations at the Graduate and Postgraduate Schools of Fine Arts, University of Tehran between 1993-1999
  • Lecturing Rights of the Women at the post graduate school of social sciences, Allame Tabatabayi University between 2001-2004
  • Lecturing at Tucson University at Arizona/ US in 2005


  • Criminal Law in collaboration with Professor Abdolhossein Aliabadi (1973)
  • The Rights of the child (1988)
  • Medical Rights (1989)
  • The Young Workers (1990)
  • Literary and Artistic Rights (1990)
  • Architectural Rights (1992)
  • The Rights of Refugees (1994) this book translated into English
  • History and Documentation of Human Rights in Iran (1994) this book translated into English
  • Tradition and Modernity in the Iranian Legal System (1996)
  • Comparative Children’s Rights (1997)
  • Iran Awakening: One Woman’s Journey to Reclaim Her Life and Country (2007)
  • The Golden Cage’: three brothers, three choices, once destiny (2011)



  • Received an official award from the Ministry of Culture and Higher Education of the Islamic Republic of Iran for having authored The Rights of the Child
  • Official spectator of Human Rights Watch, 1996
  • Received the Rafto Foundation prize for Human Rights activities, Norway 2001
  • Nobel Peace Prize in October, 2003
  • International Democracy Award, 2004
  • Lawyer of the Year Award, 2004
  • James Parks Morton Interfaith Award from the Interfaith Centre of New York, 2004
  • Women’s eNews 21 Leaders for the 21st Century Award/US, 2004
  • Freedom Award/Germany, 2005
  • UCI Citizen Peace building Award/US, 2005
  • The Golden Plate Award by the Academy of Achievement/US, 2005
  • Legion of Honor award, 2006
  • One of A Different Views 15 Champions of World Democracy, 2008
  • Award for the Global Defence of Human Rights, International Service Human Rights Award/ London, 2009
  • Democracy Award of the city of Bone/ Germany, 2009
  • The Manhae Prize/ Korea, 2009
  • The Scholars at Risk Prize, Dublin/Ireland, 2009
  • Ronald Berger Human Dignity Award, Ronald Berger Institute/Germany, 2009
  • Human Security Award, Muslim Public Affairs Council/US, 2009
  • The Felix Ermacora Prize for Human Rights/ Austria, 2010
  • Exodus Award/Rimini-Italy, 2010
  • Honorary Citizen of Paris, 2010
  • Honorary Citizen of Genova/ Italy, 2010
  • Human Rights Award from the Advocates for Human Rights/ US, 2011
  • Save the Children Award/ Spain, 2011
  • Honorary Membership of Spain Bar Association
  • Member of Jury for Ronald Berger Award
  • Named a street in Poitier, a city in France, after Shirin Ebadi, 2011
  •  Avicenna Award/ Frankfurt- Germany, May 2012
  • Prize for International Understanding and Human Rights from Ulrich Zewiener Stiftung / Germany, May 2012
  • Honorary Citizen of Pordenone/ Italy, May 2012