2003 Nobel laureate Dr. Shirin Ebadi to speak at St. Thomas April 13

2003 Nobel laureate Dr. Shirin Ebadi to speak at St. Thomas April 13

Dr. Shirin Ebadi, the first Iranian and the first Muslim woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, will give a public lecture, “Defending the Rights of Women and Children,” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 13, in O’Shaughnessy Educational Center auditorium. Ebadi will speak with an English translator.

General admission tickets are $10 and available beginning April 10 at the St. Thomas Box Office, lower level, Murray-Herrick Campus Center. Tickets are free at the door for St. Thomas students, faculty and staff with ID (limit two). For ticket information, call (651) 962-6137.

Ebadi, 59, is a lawyer and human rights activist from Tehran who founded and leads the Association for Support of Children’s Rights in Iran. From 1975 to 1979 she was president of the city court of Tehran. One of Iran’s first female judges, she was forced to resign after the 1979 revolution, when it was decided that women were not suitable for those posts.  She now teaches at the University of Tehran and campaigns for strengthening the legal status of women and children in her country. She has been credited for being a driving force behind Iran’s family law reforms and has campaigned for peaceful solutions to the country’s social problems. In doing so, she has argued for progressive interpretations of Islam that value principles such as human rights, democracy, equality before the law, religious freedom and freedom of speech.

Ebadi received her law degree from the University of Tehran in 1969. She is the author of several books and articles focusing on human rights and a 2006 autobiography published in the United States, Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope (Random House), which the Washington Post called “a riveting account of a brave, lonely struggle to take Islamist jurists to task for betraying the promises of their own revolution.” The book will be rereleased in paperback next month.

St. Thomas sponsors of Ebadi’s public lecture include the Justice and Peace Studies Program and the Office of the Executive Vice President.

The lecture’s co-sponsor is youthrive (note: organization does not capitalize its name), the Upper Midwest affiliate of PeaceJam International.  About 250 area high-school-age youth are expected to attend PeaceJam 2007 Saturday and Sunday, April 14 and 15, at St. Thomas. Ebadi will speak to attendees at the Saturday and Sunday sessions. She also will work with youthrive for a “Day of Peace” with juvenile offenders at the Red Wing Correctional Facility on April 13.

PeaceJam International is an organization built around Nobel Peace laureates who work to inspire young people. The youthrive organization provides youth with leadership and community-service opportunities, especially around the concepts of peace building, social justice, anti-racism, human and environmental rights and ethical leadership. For more information about youthrive, call (651) 224-3066.