The 100 Most Influential People of 2021
Kaveh Kazemi—Getty Images
By Shirin Ebadi
September 15, 2021 7:19 AM EDT

Nasrin Sotoudeh is an exemplary Iranian woman and lawyer who for years has been struggling to restore women’s rights.

When my friends and I founded the Society for Protecting the Rights of the Child in 1994, I invited Nasrin to collaborate. She defended juveniles under the age of 18 who had been sentenced to death, and in many cases was able to prevent their executions. A few years later, I founded the Defenders of Human Rights Center with some colleagues. She joined us and bravely defended political prisoners, particularly women who had been arrested for protesting discriminatory laws.

Nasrin has been imprisoned many times for her work. In 2019, she was sentenced to 38 years in prison, 12 years of them with no possibility of parole. Even inside prison, she demonstrates inspiring clarity of purpose, last year making headlines worldwide by twice going on hunger strikes to demand the release of political prisoners. The 2020 documentary Nasrin tells her story.

As she strives to promote human rights and human values, Nasrin Sotoudeh inspires others to follow in her footsteps.

Ebadi is a human-rights lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize laureate

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