As a result of her sustained fight over many years for human rights and democracy in Iran, Shirin Ebadi was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 2003. Focusing on the legal status of women and children, Ebadi, a Muslim, was the first Iranian to receive it.
The Iranian press noted that she accepted the prize without wearing the chador, the traditional head scarf, and disapprovingly mentioned that Ebadi shook hands with a man after a BBC interview. Her stand—to reject the veil and to embrace human rights for women and children—stood in sharp contrast to my family's experience in Iran.
My mother often told us of the time when women were forced to drop their chadors in Iran. The ruler, Reza Shah, saw the veil as hindrance to the country's progress. Reza Shah's soldiers actually came up behind women and grabbed the chadors off their heads.