Image description: The phrase Freedom. Woman. Life repeats over outline illustrations of Narges Mohammadi, Nazanin Boniadi, and Mahsa Amini. End ID
Image description: The phrase Freedom. Woman. Life repeats over outline illustrations of Narges Mohammadi, Nazanin Boniadi, and Mahsa Amini. End ID

Illustration by Iman Lalani

Iranian Women at Forefront of Top Peace and Human Rights Awards Ceremonies

Mahsa Amini has been awarded the European Union’s Sakharov Prize, while the Nobel Peace Prize and Sydney Peace Prize have gone to Narges Mohammadi and Nazanin Boniadi respectively.

Nov 13, 2023

After her arrest for allegedly violating Iran’s hijab laws, Mahsa (Jina) Amini’s death under the custody of Iranian Morality police led to mass domestic and international outrage. This led to the “Woman, Life, Freedom” movement which, at its peak, engulfed all major cities of Iran in protests and strikes.
The movement centered on women and led by women has left undeniable changes in Iranian society, with civil disobedience becoming commonplace despite increased government repression. Women appearing in public without a headscarf and Zahedan’s weekly protests have become routine, which continue despite heightened government scrutiny with the introduction of new punishments for violation of hijab laws and violent repression of Zahedan protestors.
For their steadfast commitment to women’s rights and their enduring sacrifices, Mahsa (Jina) Amini and the Woman, Life, Freedom movement have been awarded the 2023 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought by the European Union’s top prize in human rights work.
ʺOn 16 September we marked one year since the murder of Jina Mahsa Amini in Iran. The European Parliament proudly stands with the brave and defiant who continue to fight for equality, dignity and freedom in Iran. We stand with those who, even from prison, continue to keep Women, Life and Freedom alive. By choosing them as laureates for the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought 2023, this House remembers their struggle and continues to honour all those who have paid the ultimate price for liberty,ʺ stated president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, in her announcement.
2012 Sakharov Prize winner, Nasrin Sotoudeh, has recently been arrested by Iranian authorities at the funeral of 16-year-old Armita Garawand, who was reported to have died after “suffering from brain damage,” according to state media. According to eye-witnesses and reports, Garawand suffered serious head trauma following a violent encounter with a moral police officer for not wearing the hijab. The state media contested this version and asserted of her arrest for failure to wear a headscarf and “disturbing society’s mental security.”
Narges Mohammadi, currently imprisoned and known for her activism against the death penalty and the systematic use of torture in Iranian prisons,was awarded the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize. “Her brave struggle has come with tremendous personal cost. All together, the regime has arrested her 13 times, convicted her 5 times, and sentenced her to a total of 31 years in prison, and 154 lashes” said Reiss-Anderson, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
Narges Mohammadi is the second Iranian woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Shirin Ebadi was awarded the honor in 2003 for her focus on women’s and children’s rights. Prior to her arrest, Narges Mohammadi served as the vice president of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, founded by Shirin Ebadi.
Human Rights Activist and Actress Nazanin Boniadi has also been awarded the Sydney Peace Prize for her advocacy for women’s rights in Iran. Boniadi has previously appeared before the UN Security Council, the US Senate Human Rights Caucus, and the British Parliament to bring attention to the Woman, Life, Freedom movement.
Despite outrageous violations of human rights, multiple silencing attempts by the regime, and great personal risks, Iranian women have continuously fought for their rights and their country. These prizes are a recompense and recognition of those efforts.
Azadeh is a contributing writer. Email them at
gazelle logo