Leila is a practicing lawyer and human rights activist based who grew up in Tehran, Iran. Since 2001, Leila has focused on women and children’s rights. Along with many other brave women in Iran, Leila has worked on the One Million Signatures campaign to collect one million signatures in support of changing discriminatory laws against women in her country.
In 2009, Leila accepted the RAW in War Anna Politkovskaya Award on behalf of the women of Iran and the One Million Signatures campaign.
Leila completed her legal training with Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi in Tehran. Now living outside of Iran, Leila works to raise awareness on injustices against women in Iran, and also to defend women rights campaigners who have been attacked arrested by the Iranian government.
The current criminal code in Iran considers a women’s life is worth half that of a man. Women are also not free to choose their husband, but require their father or grandfather’s permission—regardless of age. The One Million Signatures campaign seeks to secure equal rights in marriage and inheritance, an end to polygamy, and stricter punishments for honour killings and other forms of gender violence. Campaign organizers say that their demands conform to Islamic principles, and are in keeping with Iran’s international commitments.
Leila is determined to fight such systemic discrimination in her home country—and would like to be part of the change that brings about greater justice. Like many young Iranian women, she not only wants greater rights for women but also wants to see more freedom for the media and also more academic freedom.
Leila believes that women activists everywhere must stand together. “I urge all women around the world to support each other and to help each other to just fight against discrimination, gender-based discrimination, a common problem of all women around the world,” she says. “I urge the international community, women around the world, to back up each other, to support each other and be helpful for each other.”
Leila Alikarami accepts Anna Politkovskaya Award from Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire (video @4:50), Raw in War, 7 Oct 2009.
One Million Signatures Campaign (video) , 17 Mar 2008.
Leila Alikarami acceptance speech Anna Politkovskaya Award 2009, Raw in War, 2009.
Iran’s women are not afraid, the Guardian, 6 Oct 2009.