Mothers are the first line of defence in preventing violent extremism. They are uniquely positioned in their children’s lives to recognise and respond to the first warning signs of radicalisation. In an effort to further normalise the idea of mothers as an integral part of any effective security strategy, Women without Borders (WwB) and the Women’s Town Counsellor of Vienna, Sonja Wehsely, hosted Iranian Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Shirin Ebadi in 2008 for a discussion on the unique power of mothers to provide peaceful foundations for their children and contribute to constructing resilient societies. This was the Ebadi’s first appearance at a public event after receiving the honour. She spoke about the inconsistencies of Iran’s law with its culture. While the Iranian government has signed major international human rights conventions, human rights are not protected in the country. Discrimination on the basis of gender, faith, and opinion is widespread, and arrested persons are frequently not allowed to meet with their lawyers until the trial. At the same time, women are represented in all fields of employment and 65% of university students are female, yet gender inequality is entrenched in Iranian law. Corruption is rampant, capital punishment widespread, and official figures estimate over 10 million people to live below the poverty line. By speaking out against these human rights violations, Ebadi and WwB hope to contribute to a more just, equitable Iran and world.
Dr. Shirin Ebadi, Iran: Ebadi is an Iranian lawyer and human rights activist who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her pioneering efforts in defending women and children’s rights.