And The Winner Is…

Fri, Oct 10, 2003

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From Oslo to Tehran, streets are buzzing over the new winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Iranian human rights activist Shirin Ebadi. It came as a surprise, the Pope and Former Czech President Vaclav Havel had been rumored to be the top contenders. But instead, the Committee made a choice that some say speaks volumes about the politics behind the prize itself.

It is the first win for an Iranian the first win for a Muslim woman and it is sure to focus international attention on the fight for human rights and the plight of women in Iran. There is a message for the west as well. Ebadi was also congratulated by the Nobel committee, and in a very direct way, for her ability to solve problems using non-violent means. A look at this year’s Nobel winner, Iranian human rights activist Shirin Ebadi.

Irwin Abrams, author of “The Nobel Peace Prize and the Laureates”
Ali Banuazizi, co-director Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Program at Boston College
Mahnaz Afkhami, Iran’s Minister of State for Women’s Affairs
Mehrangiz Kar, Iranian women’s rights activist and Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia
Jim Muir, BBC reporter in Tehran

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About Mahnaz Afkhami

A lifetime advocate for the rights of women, Mahnaz Afkhami works with activists across the world, especially in Muslim majority societies, to help women become leaders. She is Founder and President of Women’s Learning Partnership for Rights, Development, and Peace (WLP), Executive Director of Foundation for Iranian Studies...more

Quotables – Iran Women’s Movement

"Now, when I look back [on the work of the WOI], it seems to me that our main mistake was not that we did not do other things which we should have done. Our main mistake was that we created conditions in which the contradictions related to modernity, progress, equality, and human rights, especially women’s rights, increased and the reaction to our work put perhaps too much pressure on the country’s social fabric." - Fate of the family protection law

"Iran’s One Million Signatures Campaign for the Reform of Discriminatory Laws is an extraordinary phenomenon. It is democratic, nonhierarchical, open, and evolving in a polity that is none of those things." - Iranian Women’s One Million Signatures Campaign for Equality: The Inside Story, Foreword

At the time of her execution, [Ms. Parsay] wrote one of the most moving letters to her children. And in that she expressed the same courage and the same steadfast belief in her principles that she had followed all of her life. And that was that: I’m a doctor. I know what it means to die, that takes only a minute. I’m not afraid of that. What I’m afraid of is to be pressured into denying 50 years of service to women. - Executed But Not Forgotten

“Prostitution was the code word for activism during the early part of the revolution” - I Was Iran's Last Woman Minister