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Sarah – Open Studiums

Sports Activist, Iran

“Sara” is an Iranian women’s rights activist for over 13 years. She has worked to promote women’s rights to education, sports and employment. She has worked to ensure women’s access to sports stadiums. The stadiums campaign works by engaging national and international officials, including at FIFA, to advocate for the lifting of the ban on women to enter sports stadiums in Iran. In 2018, due to her efforts, Azadi stadium opened its doors to allow women to watch a live stream of Iran’s match against Spain. The Persians lost 1-0 but the women and girls in Iran most certainly won.

 

What is your favourite sport? Football and volleyball
What drives you? It used to be to fight for your identity and rights as a woman in sport, but now I can identify myself after years of working in this field and the goal is equality for women in sport.
What was your defining moment to get to where you are now? I think it was June 2005, when a group of feminists looked to open stadium doors for women.  I was a female sports fan, but after that day, it became about being more than just a fan.
What is your first sporting memory? When I was 10 years old and signed up for a volleyball class.  I entered that small stadium and felt that I want to be a volleyball player.  It warms my heart when I think about it.
Who is your inspirational woman in sport? Iranian female athletes are a huge source of inspiration – you can’t imagine how much pressure they are facing, but still they don’t give up.
Why is sport important? Being from a society which didn’t like women to be participating in sports, we now see women participating in sport openly and even the state uses female athletes to promote pride in Iran.  Sport gives us the chance to progress as a society through this sense of honour and national pride.