Citizen Peacebuilding Program

Shirin Ebadi

Brief Biography:

Shirin Ebadi is the first woman in the history of Iranian justice to have served as a judge. Ebadi sat for the Tehran University entrance exams and gained a place at the Faculty of Law in 1965. She received her law degree in three-and-a-half years, and immediately sat for the entrance exams for the Department of Justice. After a six-month apprenticeship in adjudication, she began to serve officially as a judge in March 1969. While serving as a judge, she continued her education and obtained a doctorate with honors in private law from Tehran University in 1971.

In 1975, she became the President of Bench 24 of the Tehran City Court. Following the victory of the Islamic Revolution in February 1979, women were forbidden to serve as judges so Ebadi was dismissed from her post and given clerical duties. Ebadi requested and was granted early retirement. Since the Bar Association had remained closed for some time since the revolution and was being managed by the Judiciary, her application to practice private law was turned down. She was, in effect, housebound for many years.

Ebadi used her time of unemployment to write several books and had many articles published in Iranian journals. Her most recent work "The Rights of Women," published by Ganj-e Danesh, Tehran (2002) is expected to be translated in English by UNICEF.

In 1992 Ebadi finally succeeded in obtaining a lawyer's license and set up her own private practice. She began defending many notable cases; some were national cases. Among those cases were her representations of the families of serial murder victims. She also represented several journalists or their families, accused or sentenced in relation to freedom of expression. She took on a large number of social cases, including some involving child abuse.

In 1995, Ebadi cofounded the Association for Support of Children's Rights. She was the association's president until 2000, and continues to assist the association as a legal adviser. Currently the association has over 500 active members.

In 2001, Ebadi cofounded the Human Rights Defense Centre with four defense lawyers. She is currently the centre's president.

In the summer of 2002, Ebadi made a proposal to the Islamic Consultative Assembly (Majlis) to ratify a law on prohibiting all forms of violence against children; as a result the law was promptly debated and ratified.

Shirin Ebadi was born in the city of Hamedan in northwestern Iran in 1947. Her family consisted of academics and practicing Muslims. She moved to Tehran with her family at the age of one and has been a resident in the capital. She is married and has two daughters.

In 2003 The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to Shirin Ebadi for her efforts promoting democracy and human rights, and especially for her focus on the struggle for the rights of women and children.

Source: Les Prix Nobel. The Nobel Prizes 2003, Editor Tore Frangsmyr, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 2004.

For further biographical information please see website

Planned Giving

Citizen Peacebuilding Program

School of Social Sciences

UC Irvine

UCI Campus Map

Ticketing Information

University of California, Irvine ©