UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has welcomed the decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to jailed Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi, calling it a tribute to women “fighting for their rights at the risk of their freedom”.
The choice of recipient was “an important reminder that the rights of women and girls are facing a strong pushback, including through the persecution of women human rights defenders, in Iran and elsewhere”, the UN chief's spokesman said in a statement.
Ms Mohammadi, 51, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for her fight against the oppression of women in Iran and her efforts to promote human rights and freedom for all”, the Oslo-based Nobel Committee said.
The journalist and activist has been arrested 13 times by Iranian authorities in the past two decades and sentenced to a total of 31 years in prison and 154 lashes for her campaign against the mandatory hijab for women and the death penalty.
She is currently jailed at Tehran's Evin prison.
Ms Mohammadi's award comes after a wave of protests swept Iran following the death in morality police custody in 2022 of Mahsa Amini, who was accused of violating the country's strict dress code for women.
US President Joe Biden congratulated Ms Mohammadi on her win, issuing a statemend in which he celebrated "her unshakable courage".
"Ms Mohammadi’s commitment to building the future that women and all people in Iran deserve is an inspiration to people everywhere who are fighting for human rights and basic human dignity," he said.
In a statement, UN experts expressed “serious concern” about the fate of Iranian women human rights activists.
“The human rights defenders that remain in Iran, as well as their families, live with major security risks,” the experts pointed out.
They said the arrests and attacks against women in Iran are aimed at “punishing and silencing” human rights defenders and civil rights activists, particularly in relation to women’s rights.
Ms Mohammadi is the second Iranian to win the Nobel Peace Prize after human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi in 2003.