Jailed Iranian women's rights activist Narges Mohammadi wins Nobel Peace Prize

The winner of the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize, Narges Mohammadi, is currently held in a Tehran prison for her women's rights advocacy.

Narges Mohammadi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize, smiling at the camera.
Image: Reihane Taravati - via X, @freenargesmhmd

Iranian women’s rights activist Narges Mohammadi has won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize for her “fight against the oppression of women in Iran”.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee chose the so-called “freedom fighter” as the winner of the world’s most famous peace prize, selecting her from 351 other candidates. Announcing the award, the committee said that it was a tribute to the Woman, Life, Freedom movement in Iran, of which Mohammadi is one of the most prominent advocates.

Narges Mohammadi is the deputy head of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, a non-governmental organisation that promotes the rights of women and other minority groups in Iran. For her activism for women’s rights, human rights and the abolition of the death penalty, she has been arrested 13 times, convicted five and sentenced to 31 years in prison and 154 lashes by the Iranian regime.

She is currently held in Tehran’s Evin Prison on charges that include spreading propaganda against the state. She has also been banned from speaking to her husband and children for refusing to be silenced while behind bars.


Speaking about the activist, Berit Reiss-Andersen of the Nobel Committee started her speech by saying the words “woman, life, freedom” in Farsi, the main slogan used in the ongoing protests against the Iranian regime.

​​”The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize to Narges Mohammadi for her fight against the oppression of women in Iran and her fight to promote human rights and freedom for all,” Reiss-Andersen said. She continued by saying that the award also recognised the hundreds of thousands of people who are still fighting against the regime.

“Only by embracing equal rights for all can the world achieve the fraternity between nations that (prize founder) Alfred Nobel sought to promote,” she said. “This prize is first and foremost a recognition of the very important work of a whole movement in Iran, with its undisputed leader, Narges Mohammadi.

“If the Iranian authorities make the right decision, they will release her so that she can be present to receive this honour (in December), which is what we primarily hope for,” Reiss-Andersen concluded.

Even while in prison, Mohammadi has demonstrated her commitment to fighting for the rights of women and minorities in Iran. In December last year, she sent a letter to the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman, describing “assaults against women during detention and in detention centres” as “part of the repression programme” of the Islamic Republic against the protesters.


On the anniversary of the incident that sparked protests across the country, where a young Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, was killed while in police custody after being arrested for not wearing the hijab, Mohammadi published a message calling it “the day of recording the oppression of the religious authoritarian regime against the women of Iran”. The activist is also calling for the UN to include gender apartheid in the definition of crimes against humanity.

Narges Mohammadi is the second Iranian woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, after Shirin Ebadi did so in 2003, and the 19th woman to win it in its 122-year history. The prize, amounting to 11 million Swedish krona (€947,100), will be presented in Oslo on December 10, commemorating the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death.

Waking up to the announcement of the prize, Mohammadi’s brother, Hamidreza, told the Norwegian broadcaster NRK that he was overjoyed.

“We hope it will be safer for those in Iran. The situation there is very dangerous, activists there can lose their lives,” he said. “The joy is so great. I am so happy on behalf of Narges.”

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