Dr. Shirin Ebadi

Dr. Shirin Ebadi is an Iranian lawyer, former judge and human rights activist. On 10 October 2003, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her significant and pioneering efforts for democracy and human rights - especially women's, children's and refugee rights. She was the first Iranian and first Muslim woman to ever receive the prize. Dr. Ebadi became Iran's first female judge when she was just 23 years old. Despite initially supporting the Iranian revolution like many Iranians, she soon became its scourge. Although described as "the worst nightmare of Iran's hardline clerics", her fight for human rights, particularly those for women, is not anti-religion. "I am against patriarchy, not Islam," she says. Demoted to a secretary in her own court by the regime, which considered women unsuitable to be judges, she set up her own pro-bono law practice to focus on injustices in the legal system, acting for political dissidents and on child-abuse cases. Despite being put on a death list by the regime, Dr. Ebadi became the country's most high-profile human rights activist, founding the Human Rights Defenders Centre. Dr. Ebadi lived in Tehran, but she has been in exile in the UK since June 2009 due to the increase in persecution of Iranian citizens who are critical of the current regime. In 2004, she was listed by Forbes Magazine as one of the "100 most powerful women in the world". She is also included in a published list of the "100 most influential women of all time."