GENEVA, February 18, 2020 – An international coalition of 25 human rights organizations will today present a prestigious international women’s rights award to Shaparak Shajarizadeh, a prominent Iranian women’s rights activist who was jailed, beaten and brutalized for removing her headscarf in public.
The Iranian activist became a leader in the “Girls of Revolution Street” and White Wednesday civil disobedience movements. In February 2018, she was famously arrested for removing her hijab in defiance of Iran’s compulsory law. That year, Shajarizadeh was named by BBC as one of the 100 most inspiring and influential women around the world.
She will receive the 2020 Geneva Summit International Women’s Rights Award at a ceremony in the Swiss city today, where she will address UN diplomats, human rights activists, and journalists from around the world attending the 12th annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy.
Before an estimated crowd of 800 attendees, Shajarizadeh will put a global spotlight on Iran’s repression of women with its mandatory hijab laws and encourage others to hold the Iranian regime to account for its systematic violation of human rights.
“I am extremely honored to be nominated for this award,” said Shajarizadeh. “I feel more encouraged to continue my small share of changing the world on behalf of the brave Iranian women, and women all around the world, who are risking their lives each day to seize their dignity, fight for equality, and defend human rights.”
Shajarizadeh was chosen for her “fearless defence of women’s rights in Iran, for which she was jailed, beaten and brutalized,” said Hillel Neuer, the executive director of United Nations Watch, a co-organizer of the conference together with Liberal International, Human Rights Foundation, and more than 20 other human rights groups.
Previous laureates of the International Women’s Rights Award include anti-FGM activist Nimco Ali, Congolese anti-rape activist Julienne Lusenge, and Yazidi member of the Iraqi Parliament Vian Dakhil.
In addressing the 12th Geneva Summit today, Shajarizadeh joins other champions of human rights from around the world, including dissidents, activists, victims, and relatives of political prisoners from Iran, China, Pakistan, Cuba, Russia, Turkey, and Venezuela, who will be testifying on the human rights situation in their countries.
Today’s event takes place just days before the UN Human Rights Council’s main annual session, in order to place urgent situations on the world agenda. “It’s a focal point for dissidents worldwide,” said Neuer.
The global gathering is acclaimed as a one-stop opportunity to hear from and meet front-line human rights advocates, many of whom have personally suffered imprisonment and torture.
Subjects on the program this year include discrimination against women, China’s mass detention of Uyghurs, child marriage, religious intolerance, and the persecution of human rights defenders.
For live webcast on Tuesday, and for program and schedule information, visit www.genevasummit.org.
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