The 2001 Rafto Prize was awarded to Shirin Ebadi (1947) for her struggle for human rights and democracy in Iran, and in particular, her fight for the rights of women and children.
Shirin Ebadi is an Iranian lawyer, human rights activist and founder of Children's Right Support Association in Iran. She struggles for the strengthening of the legal status of children and women. At great personal risk she used her position as a lawyer and a university professor to promote human rights in the Islamic society of Iran.
Ebadi was the first female judge in Iran, but was forced to resign after the revolution in 1979. Conservative clerics insisted that Islam prohibit women from becoming judges. Ebadi was not able to practice as a lawyer until 1993. During this time she wrote books and articles in Iranian periodicals, which made her widely known .
Shirin Ebadi is an outstanding representative of the Iranian reform movement, and her work is universally recognized. She is a practicing Muslim, but she is a firm believer that Islam can be interpreted in accordance with democratic ideals and human rights. Shirin Ebadi was awarded the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize.