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Audio version

Plenary addresses are open to all conference registrants and are included in the registration fee. Learn more at www.nafsa.org/ac17plenaries.

Dr. Shirin Ebadi

Thursday, June 1: 4:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m.

As the first Muslim woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, Shirin Ebadi continues her work fighting for human rights with a specific focus on her native Iran.

Dr. Ebadi won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her work in promoting human rights, particularly for women, children, and political prisoners in Iran. One of the first female judges in Iran, Dr. Ebadi was also the first woman to serve in the role of chief justice.

After being forced out of the judiciary as a result of the 1979 revolution, Dr. Ebadi later became an attorney in private practice defending the rights of political dissidents. Her work led to her being arrested numerous times and receiving death threats. Despite now living in exile, Dr. Ebadi remains committed to her mission of speaking out against human rights abuses and advocating for legal reforms in her country.

Dr. Ebadi is the founder of several organizations including the Defenders of Human Rights Center and is cofounder of the Nobel Women’s Initiative. She also launched the Million Signatures Campaign, which demands an end to legal discrimination against women in Iranian law.

She frequently lectures at universities across the world and is the author of 13 books including her memoir Iran Awakening: One Woman’s Journey to Reclaim Her Life and Country and the recently-published Until We Are Free: My Fight for Human Rights in Iran. Dr. Ebadi earned her Master’s, JD, and PhD degrees from the University of Tehran.

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Dr. Shirin Ebadi will participate in a book signing immediately following the plenary address.

Closing Plenary

Abigail E. Disney

Friday, June 2: 3:00 p.m.-4:15 p.m.

Abigail E. Disney is an award-winning filmmaker, philanthropist, and the CEO and president of Fork Films. An active supporter of peacebuilding, she is passionate about advancing women’s roles in the public sphere.

Disney’s directorial debut, The Armor of Light, premiered at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival. The Armor of Light follows an Evangelical minister trying to find the courage to preach about the growing toll of gun violence in America.

Having grown up in a family of filmmakers, Disney turned to documentaries in 2008, inspired to tell the story of a brave group of women who used nonviolent protests to bring an end to Liberia’s long civil war. That film, Pray the Devil Back to Hell, won best documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2008, and screened in 60 countries around the world on all seven continents. Pray the Devil Back to Hell is broadly credited with highlighting the bravery and sacrifice of its lead figure, Leymah Gbowee, who received a Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.

Disney also founded Peace is Loud, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting and spotlighting women who are stepping up for peace and resisting violence in their communities. Her production company, Fork Films, has supported more than 50 films in the promotion of peacebuilding, human rights, and social justice.

Disney received her bachelor’s degree from Yale University, her master’s degree from Stanford University, and her doctorate from Columbia University. While pursuing her PhD, Disney taught English and American literature at Iona College and wrote a dissertation on the role of romanticized violence and war in American life.

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