History was made Sunday when the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded its prestigious Nobel Peace Prize to Shirin Ebadi for her activism in human rights and democracy. History was not made based on Ebadi’s sex, rather, the fact that she is the first Iranian to ever hold the title of a Nobel Laureate. With this award, Ebadi has opened the door for Iranians as well as Muslim women everywhere to pursue their fight for equality and freedom.
Ebadi was the first female judge in Iran. After four years, she was forced to resign in 1979 when the Shiite ayatollahs, religious authority figures, decided women were no longer allowed to hold such lofty positions due to their supposed emotional instability.
Even after her resignation, Ebadi practiced as a lawyer, which she continues to do to this day.
At the present time, Iranian women are able to enter most professions that were once considered off limits, a direct result of the work of Ebadi and women like her.
In fact, there are 14 women who hold seats in the Iranian Parliament, which is more than women presently holding office in the U.S. Senate. However, according to the Christian Science Monitor, the main outcry heard against the lack of women in the Iranian workplace is the “glass ceiling,” which prevents women from holding higher-ranking positions.
It is because of her activism for refugee rights, as well as the rights of women and children that Ebadi was deserving of the Peace Prize. She is the founder as well as current leader of the Association for Support of Children’s Rights in Iran. As a practicing Muslim, Ebadi promotes her belief that there are no conflicts between human rights and Islam.
Edabi said recently in an interview to the Christian Science Monitor, “Any person who pursues human rights in Iran must live in fear from birth to death, but I have learned to overcome my fear.”
She has come a long way for a woman having lived in a country that so blatantly instilled fear as a control tactic over its citizens. It would seem that with the historical receipt of this award, she is finally being credited for having carved the roads that she did for women and Muslims.