Iranian poet and women’s rights defender Simin Behbahani has a long list of accolades on her résumé. And now she can add the “Simone de Beauvoir Prize for Women’s Freedom,” which she received yesterday in Paris. The honor recognizes the work and actions of those who contribute to the freedom of women.
Behbahani, referred to as the “lioness of Iran” by the nation’s intelligentsia and literati, received the award for her work on Iran’s “One Million Signatures” initiative, a grassroots campaign by Iranian women fighting against laws that discriminate against women. Behbahani told Radio Free Europe that the prize will support and encourage the feminist movements in Iran, which have been under increasing state pressure.
Last March, Behbahani, who was born in Tehran in 1927, became the first recipient of Stanford’s Bita Prize for Literature and Freedom, part of the Daryabari Persian Studies Fund to support and promote teaching, research and scholarship relating to Iran. She was also nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature in 1997, awarded a Human Rights Watch-Hellman/Hammett grant in 1998 and, in 1999, won the Carl von Ossietzky Medal for her struggle for freedom of expression in Iran.
Congratulations, Simin! Please keep up the good work you’re doing. The women in Iran — and everywhere — deserve to live free of oppression.