Shirin Ebadi

Born:June 21, 1947 (age 77)
Career:Iranian lawyer, judge and human rights activist
Education:Doctorate, University of Tehran

Shirin Ebadi is an Iranian lawyer, former judge and human rights activist who founded the Defenders of Human Rights Center in Iran. In 2003, Ebadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts for democracy and human rights, especially for the rights of women and children. She was the first Iranian and the first Muslim woman to receive the prize.

Ebadi was born in Hamadan, Iran, on June 21,1947. She graduated from the University of Tehran with a law degree in 1969 and then with a doctorate degree in law in 1971. She became a judge in 1969, the first woman judge in Iran. In 1975, she became the first woman president of the Tehran city court, serving until the 1979 Iranian revolution. After the revolution, when conservative clerics insisted that Islam prohibits women from becoming judges, she was demoted to a secretarial position, but was later assigned to the slightly higher position of "law expert" after she and other female judges protested. She was not able to practice as a lawyer until 1993.

As a lawyer, Ebadi is known for accepting pro bono cases of dissident figures and for campaigning for strengthening the legal status of children and women. She helped draft the text of a law against physical abuse of children, which was passed by the Iranian parliament in 2002. She also drafted a law explaining how a woman's right to divorce her husband is in line with Sharia (Islamic law) and presented the bill before the government, but the male members would not consider the bill.

Since receiving the Nobel Prize in 2003, Ebadi has lectured to audiences in various countries, issued statements, and defended people accused of political crimes in Iran. She and five other Nobel laureates - Jody Williams, Wangari Maathai, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan Maguire - created the Nobel Women's Initiative in 2006 to promote peace, justice and equality for women.


The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica (2005, February 24). “Shirin Ebadi” Britannica. Retrieved November 28, 2022.

Nobel Prize Outreach AB (n.d.). “Shirin Ebadi Biographical” The Nobel Peace Prize. Retrieved November 28, 2022.

Nobel Prize Outreach AB (n.d.). “Shirin Ebadi Facts” The Nobel Peace Prize. Retrieved November 28, 2022.

Nobel Women's Initiative (n.d.). “Shirin Ebadi” Nobel Women's Initiative. Retrieved November 28, 2022.