2023 Nobel Peace Prize: Promoting human rights for women


The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize to Ms. Narges Mohammadi for “her fight against the oppression of women in Iran and her fight to promote human rights and freedom for all”. Mohammadi is currently imprisoned for her work against the death penalty and involvement in the protests that followed the death of Ms. Mahsa Jina Amin, in police custody, a year ago. 

Narges Mohammadi follows in the footsteps of judge Shirin Ebadi, the Peace Prize laureate exactly 20 years ago. In fact Mohammadi has been active in the organization Defenders of Human Rights Center founded by Ebadi and others in Tehran in 2001.

The prize sends a strong message about the Iranian regime’s continued repression, again encouraging the opposition by bringing attention to the role of women and the importance of non-violent resistance.

As underlined by Berit Reiss-Andersen, the chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, this year’s prize emphasizes the importance of defending women’s rights everywhere and change the trend towards authoritarian regimes. In his will Alfred Nobel stressed work for the “fraternity” among nations, which reasonably includes international transparency and universal respect for human rights.

There are other Nobel Peace Prize laureates who have been awarded the prize while in prison. The first one was the opponent of the Nazi regime Carl von Ossietzky in 1935. He was forbidden to travel to Oslo and later died in prison. Aung San Suu Kyi, receiving the prize in 1991, was later released, became the democratically elected leader in Myanmar, but she is now in prison after a period in house arrest following the 2021 military coup. The imprisoned Chinese citizen Liu Xiaobo, who was awarded the prize in 2010, subsequently died in prison. One of the laureates in 2022, Ales Bialiatski from Belarus, is still in prison. Thus Ms. Narges Mohammadi is one in a series of courageous laureates who have paid a high personal price when pursuing a non-violent battle for democracy while remaining in their countries. 

This year’s Peace Prize accentuates the importance of global respect for human rights for a lasting peace with human qualities. 

Peter Wallensteen

Senior Professor, Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala Universitet 

Last modified: 2022-11-09