Mansoureh Shojaee (Foto: privat)
Mansoureh Shojaee was born in Tehran in 1958. For over 20 years, she has been one of the leaders of the Iranian women’s rights movement and her involvement in politics spans 30 years and more. She was a librarian at the National Library in Tehran for 22 years and worked as a journalist, freelance writer and literary translator for French. From 1994 to 2004, as part of the Children’s Book Council of Iran (IBBYP – International Board on Books for Young People), she worked with blind children and enabled them to access literature by teaching them the use of audio books. For her efforts, she received the 2010 Testimonial Statute Honors Award from the IBBYP. She also worked with other organizations including UNICEF to develop traveling libraries geared towards Iranian women and children. A close confidant of Shirin Ebadi (the Iranian 2003 Nobel Peace Prize laureate living in exile in London), Mansoureh Shojaee was committed to fulfilling Ebadi’s dream of an Iranian women’s museum. The project was scheduled to start in the Banu library in Evaz in the southwest of Iran, but was banned in the early stages. In 2000, Mansoureh Shojaee co-founded (with the journalist, feminist and political activist Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani and other like-minded women) the women’s cultural center Markaze Farhangi-ye zanab, where she opened the Women’s Library Sadige Dolatabadi in 2003. She is one of the initiators of the One Million Signatures Campaign for Equality and co-founder of the website The Feminist School. Because of her dedicated efforts, she was imprisoned several times, most recently on 27 December 2009. After a month, she was released on bail and was free to leave Iran. Having already suffered a four-year travel ban, she promptly went into exile. She was initially received at the Heinrich Böll Foundation and was part of the Writers in Exile Program from 2011 until 2013. In 2013, her book Sharzade’s Sisters. Women in Iran was published. She continues to work as a women’s rights activist, writer and journalist while she remains in exile. Currently, Mansoureh Shojaee is studying in The Hague at the International Institute of Social Studies of the Erasmus University of Rotterdam, getting her Masters in Human Rights, Gender & Conflict Studies. In 2017, a text by Shojaee will be published in the German PEN anthology Zuflucht in Deutschland. Texte verfolgter Autoren (S. Fischer).