Smart Girl Stories
Shirin Ebadi
Stories of inspiration from Smart Girl Stories across the globe. Shirin Ebadi: Human Rights Lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize Winner

Shirin Ebadi: Human Rights Lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize Winner

Shirin Ebadi is an inspiration to many. Born in Iran, she became a lawyer and human rights activist, despite the odds being stacked against her. In 2016, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work in promoting democracy and human rights. Ebadi has continued to fight for justice, even in the face of threats and intimidation. She is a powerful voice for those who have none, and she reminds us that each one of us has the power to make a difference.

She is a true inspiration to young women worldwide. Thank you, Shirin Ebadi, for your courage and your determination to stand up for what is right.

Early Career  

Ebadi is dedicated to justice and has lived a life that reflects this. Beginning with her career as a law student attending Iran Tehran university in the 1960s, Ebadi’s hard work and intelligence carried her all the way to a doctoral degree in law and, later, an appointment as a judge in the Iranian court system. Her work stopped in 1979 during the Islamic Revolution when she found herself banned from her profession—because of her gender.  

Ebadi’s dedication did not slow down because of the Islamic regime’s unfortunate decision to ban women from working as judges. Instead of serving as a court clerk, which she was offered after losing her appointment as a judge, she resigned from the 26th divisional court in Tehran and became a defense attorney.

In her new role, Ebadi took on tough cases defending hundreds of people, many of them women, who were facing unjust charges in Iran.  She defended political prisoners and managed to secure freedom for several Iranians who were facing harsh charges in the aftermath of the 1979 revolution. Ebadi, a Muslim woman, defended religious minorities in Iran and dedicated a lifetime to ensuring the rights of innocent people in a tough political climate.

Talking about her experiences in an interview with Porotchista Khakpour, she says:  

“Not only did I not make money, 20 lawyers who worked with us did not make money. We had 6,000 political cases we defended without charge. We decided to take no money. I did consulting in my office, my husband had a job as an engineer, our office was our own so no rent – so with political prisoners I took no pay.” 

Success in Publishing 

Ebadi worked steadily until 2009, when she decided to leave her home for Europe. By this time, her actions were carrying more and more risk, and because of the potential danger she could face as an activist in Iran, she decided to leave Iran for London. Even from far away, she continued working as a defense lawyer and wrote and published about her experiences as an activist in Iran’s Islamic republic.

In the thick of these struggles, Ebadi also came up against the United States which banned her writings as part of a larger ban on Iranian goods. In an iconic move, Ebadi sued the United States Department of Treasury and won her way into publishing the outlawed books and articles she had written for American audiences. In yet another example of hard work and dedication in the face of oppression, Shirin Ebadi rose to the challenge and gave the world an example of what one woman can do in the face of oppression and censorship.  

Shirin Ebadi’s life and career (having been banned as a judge in Iran and banned as a writer in the United States) are an example of how a bright and successful life can still unfold in the face of adversity. Despite being targeted, dismissed, and silenced by powerful regimes, Ebadi found ways to make a meaningful contribution to the world and its women.  

An Inspiration To Young Women

Shirin Ebadi is an inspiration to young women worldwide who want to make a difference in the world. A human rights lawyer and founder of the Defenders of Human Rights Center in Iran, she was the first Muslim woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

Ebadi has dedicated her life to campaigning for democracy and human rights in Iran, often at great personal risk. She has been imprisoned, placed under house arrest, and threatened with death. Despite these dangers, Ebadi remains determined to fight for justice. Her work has inspired other women to speak out against oppression and demand equal rights. In a world that still faces many challenges, the example of Shirin Ebadi shows us that one person can make a difference.

Learn about more inspiring girls on our Smart Girls Page, or follow our Instagram page for more stories like this!



Founder, Smart Girl, Survivor, Champion of womens rights and kids rights


Smart Girl Stories shares stories of inspiration from writers across the globe.

We ask each writer to adhere to our Smart Girl Stories pledge. The views expressed in our articles are those of the author and are meant to spark conversation and inspire you. They don’t necessarily reflect the opinions of SmartGirl Stories. We are honored to share their stories, as well as yours. To learn more – visit us here.

Follow Me

Don't be shy, get in touch. We love meeting interesting people and making new friends.