For The Woman Who Is All Women

An excerpt from Paulo Coelho’s For The Woman Who Is All Women story in the book Like A Flowing River

This is his speech for Nobel Peace Prize winner, Shirin Ebadi

photo from

The Persian poet Rumi once said that life is like being sent by a king to another country in order to carry out a particular task. The person sent may do a hundred other things in that other country, but if he or she fails to fulfill the particular task he or she was charged with, it is as if nothing had been done.

To the woman who understood her task .

To the woman who looked at the road ahead of her, and knew that hers would be a difficult journey.

To the woman who did not attempt to make light of those difficulties, but, on the contrary, spoke out against them and made them clearly visible.

To the woman who made the lonely less alone, who fed those who hungered and thirsted for justice, who made the oppressor feel as bad as those he oppressed.

To the woman who always keeps her door open, her hands working, her feet moving.

To the woman who personifies the verses of that other Persian poet, Hafez, when he says:
Not even seven thousand years of joy can justify seven days of repression.

To the woman who is here tonight, may she be each and every one of us, may her example spread, may she still have many difficult days ahead, so that she can complete her work, so that, for the generations to come, the meaning of ‘injustice’ will be found only in dictionary definitions and never in the lives of human beings.

And may she travel slowly, because her pace is the pace of change, real change, always takes a very long time.


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