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Shirin Ebadi to visit University of Bradford

27 February 09

Around 200 youngsters from across the UK will come together at the University of Bradford on 6-8 March 2009 to be inspired by a Nobel Peace Laureate, Shirin Ebadi.

Shirin was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her efforts for peace and women's rights in Iran and across the Middle East. Shirin is a critic of the Iranian government and works for democracy. She has recently been banned from legally defending the Baha'i faith leaders who have little rights in Iran.
As part of the University's fourth annual PeaceJam event in the UK, Shirin will discuss issues of peace, conflict resolution and social justice with young people from schools and youth groups across the UK. 

PeaceJam is an international education programme which started in the USA over ten years ago and now operates in nine other countries worldwide. Bradford is the only European city to host this unique event.  It aims to inspire young people to be active citizens and peacemakers and helps them choose non-violent solutions to their issues and problems, whist offering them alternative, positive role-models.

The youngsters will spend the weekend debating global issues with the Laureate, working in groups with University student mentors, doing voluntary work around Bradford, taking part in workshops and designing their own peace projects linked to the Global Call to Action (10 priority areas identified by the Nobel Laureates).These will include setting up school human rights groups, conservation and environmental work, reaching out to the elderly, and raising money for projects in Africa.

As part of the event Shirin will give a public lecture. Her speech will address human rights paying attention to women's and children's rights and democracy in the Middle East and will coincide with International Women's Day and the 30th Anniversary of the Iranian Revolution. Tickets cost £5 and can be booked at

Dr Fiona Macaulay, from the University of Bradford's Department of Peace Studies, organises Bradford's PeaceJam activities. She said: "The University is delighted to welcome Shirin to Bradford. We hope that her wisdom in conflict resolution will be something our young guests can take away and put into practice in their own communities."


For further information about the PeaceJam event contact Dr Fiona Macaulay on 01274 235598 or on 07870 516078.

About Peace Jam

PeaceJam is an international peace education programme launched in the USA in 1996 by Ivan Suvanjieff, an artist and musician. He discovered that inner city gang members in North Denver greatly admired Archbishop Desmond Tutu, so Suvanjieff came up with the idea of using Nobel Peace Laureates as alternative role models for disaffected youngsters in the search for peace within societies. After consultation with the Dalai Lama and then other Nobel Peace Laureates, PeaceJam was finally born as a vehicle to teach young people the work of peace.

For more information about PeaceJam,
PeaceJam UK
Global Call to Action

About Shirin Ebadi

Shirin Ebadi was born in northwest Iran in 1947, in the city of Hamedan. She has two sisters and a brother. When she was one year old her family moved to Tehran, the capital of Iran. Growing up Shirin and her brothers were treated as equals by their parents. Shirin did not realize that her female friends, like most Iranian girls, were treated much differently than their brothers at home. In Iran most boys received more attention from their fathers. They were disciplined less frequently and enjoyed more affection from aunts and female relatives.

Shirin studied law and at only twenty- two years old she became the first woman in the history of Iran to serve as a judge. She received a doctorate in law from Tehran University in 1971.

In the 1970s, Iran was in a state of unrest. People were growing increasingly upset with the Monarchy, specifically the practices of the Shah. In 1978 the Iranian revolution began and in 1979 saw its Shah overthrown, and the Ayatollah (a title given to high ranking religious leaders) Khomeini came into power as the new ruler of Iran.  However, the Ayatollah and his ruling party took away most of the rights of women and other minority groups. In 1979 the new leadership declared that it was no longer legal for women to serve as judges. All female judges were dismissed from their posts and given clerical jobs. Shirin, outraged by the situation, requested an early retirement. For several years she stayed at home taking care of her two daughters, writing books.

In 1992, after many years of trying to return to the bench as a judge, Shirin succeeded in obtaining a lawyer's licence and set up her own practice. As a lawyer, Shirin took cases that involved the unfair treatment of women and children. Shirin has defended many high-profile cases. She represented the families of serial murder victims and took on a large number of social cases, including child abuse.
In 2003, Shirin Ebadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts for peace and women's rights in Iran and across the Middle East. She continues to live in Iran, working to defend the human rights of all people. Shirin said: "Human rights are a universal standard. It is a component of every religion and every civilization."

Further information

March 8 2009 is the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day.

2009 is the 30th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution. Iran is now a theocratic state that espouses a fundamentalist form of Islam. Shirin Ebadi has constantly insisted that Islam, women's rights and democracy are all mutually compatible and reinforcing.

27 February 09

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Further information for Media Enquirers

For further information please contact the University of Bradford Press Office on 01274 23 3089/3084.

Out of office hours call 07879 437996. Alternatively, e-mail or fax on (01274) 236280.